Surprisingly mature galaxies in the early universe

When the universe was only a tenth of its current age its galaxies experienced a growth spurt. It was this period that the scientists in the ALPINE project focused on when they used ESO's ALMA telescope to carry out the first ...

Panel to announce 2020 Nobel Prize for physics

The 2020 Nobel Prize for physics is being announced Tuesday, an award that has in the past honored discoveries about the tiniest of particles and the vast mysteries of outer space.

Gravity causes homogeneity of the universe

Gravity can accelerate the homogenization of space-time as the universe evolves. This insight is based on theoretical studies of the physicist David Fajman of the University of Vienna. The mathematical methods developed within ...

Big answers from tiny particles

A team of scientists led by Kanazawa University proposed a new mathematical framework to understand the properties of the fundamental particles called neutrinos. This work may help cosmologists make progress on the apparent ...

The mystery of the neutron lifetime

Nine seconds. An eternity in some scientific experiments; an unimaginably small amount in the grand scheme of the universe. And just long enough to confound nuclear physicists studying the lifetime of the neutron.

Cosmic tango between the very small and the very large

While Einstein's theory of general relativity can explain a large array of fascinating astrophysical and cosmological phenomena, some aspects of the properties of the universe at the largest-scales remain a mystery. A new ...

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Big Bang

The Big Bang is the cosmological model of the initial conditions and subsequent development of the universe that is supported by the most comprehensive and accurate explanations from current scientific evidence and observation. As used by cosmologists, the term Big Bang generally refers to the idea that the universe has expanded from a primordial hot and dense initial condition at some finite time in the past, and continues to expand to this day.

Georges Lemaître proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory of the origin of the Universe, although he called it his "hypothesis of the primeval atom". The framework for the model relies on Albert Einstein's general relativity and on simplifying assumptions (such as homogeneity and isotropy of space). The governing equations had been formulated by Alexander Friedmann. After Edwin Hubble discovered in 1929 that the distances to far away galaxies were generally proportional to their redshifts, as suggested by Lemaître in 1927, this observation was taken to indicate that all very distant galaxies and clusters have an apparent velocity directly away from our vantage point: the farther away, the higher the apparent velocity. If the distance between galaxy clusters is increasing today, everything must have been closer together in the past. This idea has been considered in detail back in time to extreme densities and temperatures, and large particle accelerators have been built to experiment on and test such conditions, resulting in significant confirmation of the theory, but these accelerators have limited capabilities to probe into such high energy regimes. Without any evidence associated with the earliest instant of the expansion, the Big Bang theory cannot and does not provide any explanation for such an initial condition; rather, it describes and explains the general evolution of the universe since that instant. The observed abundances of the light elements throughout the cosmos closely match the calculated predictions for the formation of these elements from nuclear processes in the rapidly expanding and cooling first minutes of the universe, as logically and quantitatively detailed according to Big Bang nucleosynthesis.

Fred Hoyle is credited with coining the term Big Bang during a 1949 radio broadcast. It is popularly reported that Hoyle intended this to be pejorative, but Hoyle explicitly denied this and said it was just a striking image meant to emphasize the difference between the two theories for radio listeners. Hoyle later helped considerably in the effort to understand stellar nucleosynthesis, the nuclear pathway for building certain heavier elements from lighter ones. After the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964, and especially when its spectrum (i.e., the amount of radiation measured at each wavelength) sketched out a blackbody curve, most scientists were fairly convinced by the evidence that some Big Bang scenario must have occurred.

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