Skip to comments.Oldest light shows universe grew fast, researchers say [inflationary cosmology gets a big boost]
Posted on 03/17/2006 3:46:30 AM PST by snarks_when_bored
Oldest light shows universe grew fast, researchers say
First stars arose 400 million years after big bang, not 200 million years, as once thought
Scientists examining the oldest light in the universe say they've found clear evidence that matter expanded at an almost inconceivable rate after the big bang, creating conditions that led to the formation of the first stars.
Light from the big bang's afterglow shows that the universe grew from the size of a marble to an astronomical size in just a trillionth of a second after its birth 13.7 billion years ago, researchers from Johns Hopkins and Princeton universities said.
Readings from a NASA probe also show that the earliest stars formed about 400 million years after the big bang not 200 million years afterward, as the research team once thought.
"With this new data, theories about the early universe have just taken their first exam, and they passed with flying colors," said David Spergel, a Princeton astrophysicist and co-author of the findings published Thursday.
The results are based on readings from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, a robotic instrument with two telescopes that sweeps the sky every six months in an orbit a million miles from Earth.
Light from the probe also has confirmed a theory that the universe is made up mostly of dark energy, a mysterious force that continues to cause the universe's expansion, said Johns Hopkins astrophysicist Charles Bennett, the probe's principal investigator.
"This light is just invaluable. It's really the only fossil we have from that time," Bennett said.
Inflationary theorists argue that at the time of the big bang, the universe was at first microscopic. But three events changed things: fluctuations in temperature, bursts that transformed energy into matter and a rapid expansion of the universe that ultimately enabled stars and galaxies to form.
By polarizing and filtering out light from the earliest stars, the researchers were able to uncover evidence of those inflationary moments fluctuations in brightness of the light scattered around the big bang's afterglow. "It amazes me that we can say anything about the first trillionth of a second of the universe, but we can," Bennett said.
The researchers say the findings also confirm that only 4 percent of the universe is composed of the familiar atoms that make up what we see around us.
Another 22 percent is dark matter a gravitational force made up of cold particles and 74 percent is dark energy, a force that appears to be causing the universe to expand.
Experts say the findings will help scientists for years as they try to unravel mysteries about the early universe.
God's work is truly amazing. Of course one must understand that his "timepiece" is quite different from ours.
Would you want to stand next to the marble-sized universe, if you could be assured of escaping to a safe distance before detonation?
But as for your last question, there's no escaping the birth expansion of a cosmos! If you're anywhere nearby when it starts, you'll be gone in a trillionth of a second or less.
Should've known you were up a little earlier...didn't see your thread. Sorry...
String theory would seem to suggest that our universe can be imagined as one of many, like bubbles in a froth, and as each expands (or contracts) it 'merely' inflates or conflates the froth. In that manner of envisioning the universe, there's nothing 'next' to the universe within our timespace; you cannot travel to the 'edge' of the universe because there is no edge, except as a purely abstract mental construct.
Source please? Thanks.
Ah, found it in the next article.
But I thought the earth and Universe were only 6,000 years old?
Most of the other stories I've seen say "less than a trillionth of a second". Some clarity on this is probably desirable.
The Earth and the Universe came into existence last Thursday. They merely had the appearance of age built in.
My feeble understanding of science, is that you can't make something out of nothing. How can you take mass the size of a marble and generate the relative mass of the universe, much less our solar system, or even my back yard, without adding something along the line?
Well could you ask the guy who built it why he made me late on for an important meeting last Wednesday? I don't think that was necessary.
It's not his timepiece that is different, it's his point of view. Our timepiece is the one out of sync when it comes to viewing the past. And it's because there is much we do not and likely cannot ever know. Scientists are like latecomers to the OJ case. When all they have is a picture of Mark Fuhrman and a few facts about the murder, they conclude Fuhrman must have done it - just look at the evidence....
They get scraps of metal shavings and want to make a skyscraper of it - thinking themselves intelligent and wise.
"My feeble understanding of science, is that you can't make something out of nothing. How can you take mass the size of a marble and generate the relative mass of the universe, much less our solar system, or even my back yard, without adding something along the line?"
Someone ping me when we have answers to questions such as: Where did the marble-size universe come from? If the Big Bang happened at time X, what was there before time X? Seems to me any Theory of Everything must explain how space-time started and what existed (if that's the right word) before it started (if that concept means anything).
Well, part of the answer is that spacetime (or timespace) was compressed into the marble, and just 'stretched out' to a universal scale. Now, of course it's rather hard (impossible) to imagine the entire universe compressed to the size of a marble, but that's because all our experience is of the stretched-out universe as it is today, and the hyperextreme conditions in the compressed universe are unvisualizable.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.