Skip to comments.Evidence for Universe Expansion Found
Posted on 03/16/2006 11:31:54 AM PST by The_Victor
Physicists announced Thursday that they now have the smoking gun that shows the universe went through extremely rapid expansion in the moments after the big bang, growing from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space in less than a trillion-trillionth of a second.
The discovery which involves an analysis of variations in the brightness of microwave radiation is the first direct evidence to support the two-decade-old theory that the universe went through what is called inflation.
It also helps explain how matter eventually clumped together into planets, stars and galaxies in a universe that began as a remarkably smooth, superhot soup.
"It's giving us our first clues about how inflation took place," said Michael Turner, assistant director for mathematics and physical sciences at theNational Science Foundation. "This is absolutely amazing."
Brian Greene, a Columbia University physicist, said: "The observations are spectacular and the conclusions are stunning."
Researchers found the evidence for inflation by looking at a faint glow that permeates the universe. That glow, known as the cosmic microwave background, was produced when the universe was about 300,000 years old long after inflation had done its work.
But just as a fossil tells a paleontologist about long-extinct life, the pattern of light in the cosmic microwave background offers clues about what came before it. Of specific interest to physicists are subtle brightness variations that give images of the microwave background a lumpy appearance.
Physicists presented new measurements of those variations during a news conference at Princeton University. The measurements were made by a spaceborne instrument called the Wilkinson Microwave Anistropy Probe, or WMAP, launched byNASA in 2001.
Earlier studies of WMAP data have determined that the universe is 13.7 billion years old, give or take a few hundred thousand years. WMAP also measured variations in the cosmic microwave background so huge that they stretch across the entire sky. Those earlier observations are strong indicators of inflation, but no smoking gun, said Turner, who was not involved in the research.
The new analysis looked at variations in the microwave background over smaller patches of sky only billions of light-years across, instead of hundreds of billions.
Without inflation, the brightness variations over small patches of the sky would be the same as those observed over larger areas of the heavens. But the researchers found considerable differences in the brightness variations.
"The data favors inflation," said Charles Bennett, a Johns Hopkins University physicist who announced the discovery. He was joined by two Princeton colleagues, Lyman Page and David Spergel, who also contributed to the research.
Bennett added: "It amazes me that we can say anything at all about what transpired in the first trillionth of a second of the universe."
The physicists said small lumps in the microwave background began during inflation. Those lumps eventually coalesced into stars, galaxies and planets.
The measurements are scheduled to be published in a future issue of the Astrophysical Journal.
That's one heck of an expansion rate.
It's all trying to get away from Chuck Norris.
What is it expanding into?..........
Well, that might even be faster than the speed of light. Is that possible?
"....growing from the size of a marble to a volume larger than all of observable space in less than a trillion-trillionth of a second."
Doesn't that break the "speed limit"?
I was hoping someone would post this article. WMAP is providing a great deal of info for cosmologists and now it seems to back a version of inflation. Interesting to think of our entire local galactic cluster as a former microscopic quantum fluctuation.
Chuck Norris ping
The speed of light is not involved in inflation.
The space itself has no mass, so it's not subject to the "limit."
Valid question. We seem to be in a universe with no center, or with infinite numbers of centers everywhere.
Chuck NOrris is expanding?
You sure that's a "valid" reason?
Photons don't have any mass, doo they? And they still obey the limit.
Plus - and admittedly I'm sketchy on this - when they talk about "space" expanding, it seems like what they really mean is "the extent of matter" expanding. Otherwise, like someone else here asked, "expanding into what?".
Why would imply some kind of decision. It was decided that the speed of light would be immaterial when space itself inflates. When space itself moves, deforms, contracts, expands, the physics of our day-to-day world does not apply because there is no reference, although relativity attempts to address some of the observations.
Good question. You just rediscovered the "redshift." Objects at a distance are moving away from us, and the further away they are the faster away they are moving, everything near us moves away slower. It's like blowing up a balloon. If you put dots with a marker on the surface and then blow it up, the distance between the dots increases, even though the dots don't move. And the further away the dots are to start with, the faster they move apart.
OK, what on Earth (excuse the pun) is that supposed to mean? Variations so huge that they what?
No, the fabric of space is running away from him.
"What is it expanding into?.........."
My thoughts exactly!
If the universe is globe shaped, roughly, you should be able to see the same stars and galaxies from their "other" side by looking in the opposite direction.......
Dadgum. That's almost as fast as my teenage daughter running to a ringing phone.
So are you telling me, then, that there are endless re-runs of Walker, Texas Ranger in parallel universes? But ones where Walker gets his ass kicked from time to time?
silly...btw, it would appear to some the universe evolves around John Kerry .
Stop the inflation!!!!!
No, it's really the space expanding.
Photons (i.e.light) do have mass. There is an experiment setup that you could buy that looks like a light bulb with a sort of windmill inside of it, that proves it. I'll see if I can find a link.
The meaning is for cosmologists to discover. What it is, is that the structures, which appear to be 14 billion light years away, go all the way from one side of the sky to the other, that is, they are 28 billion light years long.
If that made any sense, you're welcome!
Nature abhors a naked singularity ....
I was trying to remember who all the Chuck Norris fans were from the OFST. If your not one, then sorry for bothering you.
well, I was actually just trying to be polite. < grin >
The BB was not an explosion. The closest analogy is the expansion of a baloon as it inflates. Space-time itself is expanding.
no problem...I can learn from misdirected pings!
That's how I feel on Thanksgiving afternoons!
I think the experiment you refer to is a demonstration of black surfaces and heat reflection not photon energy/mass but I could be wrong..was once.......
"No, it's really the space expanding."
So, space is a "thing"? A "grid" of sorts?
Michelson & Morely would NOT be pleased...
So, because space time is itself expanding, it is not subject to any speed of light "speed limit?"
Actually, the data should be available to anyone if he wants to take a crack at interpreting. I think there is plenty of room for theorizing. I don't find it at all satisfactory to be an insignificant particle of condensation of a former microscopic quantum fluctuation. There is room for improvement.
Good stuff. :-)
Precisely. Space-time is not an object like a photon or a spacecraft. Light speed limitation do not affect it.
Einstein would. He's the one who came up with the concept of space-time, IIRC.
We're sorry. Your question is invalid as it was asked without the benefit of a multi-million dollar U.S. Federal Government research grant and, therefore, will not be considered.
Also, it is a "common sense" question and falls short of the sort of arcane, myopic thinking inherent in modern scientific circles. This how it works: We look for what we want. If we find it we immediately proclaim our pre-determined theory to be "truth".
Please step away from your computer. We're in charge here.
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