The Big Bang is a scientific theory about how the universe started, and then made the groups of stars (called galaxies) we see today. The universe began as very hot, small, and dense, with no stars, atoms, form, or structure (called a "singularity"). Then about 14 billion years ago, space expanded very quickly (thus the name "Big Bang"), resulting in the formation of atoms, which eventually led to the creation of stars and galaxies. The universe is still expanding today, but getting colder as well.
As a whole, space is growing and the temperature is falling as time passes. Cosmology is the name given to how the universe began and how it has developed. Scientists that study cosmology agree the Big Bang theory matches what they have observed so far.
Fred Hoyle called the theory the "Big Bang" on his radio show. He did not believe the Big Bang was correct. Scientists who did not agree with him thought the name was funny and decided to use it. Since then, Fred Hoyle's reasons for not agreeing with the theory have been proven wrong.
Scientists base the Big Bang theory on many different observations. The most important is the redshift of very far away galaxies. Redshift is the Doppler Effect occurring in light. When an object moves away from earth, it looks reddish because the movement stretches the wavelength. The reddish color occurs because red is the longest wavelength on the visible spectrum. The more redshift there is, the faster the object is moving away. By measuring the redshift, scientists proved that the universe is expanding and can even work out how fast the object is moving. With precise observation and measurements, scientists believe that universe was a singularity approximately 13.8 billion years ago. Because most things become colder as they expand, the universe is assumed to have been very hot when it started.
Other observations that support the Big Bang theory are the amounts of chemical elements in the universe. Amounts of hydrogen, helium, and lithium seem to agree with the theory of the Big Bang. Scientists also have found "cosmic microwaves background radiation". This radiation is known as radio waves, and they are everywhere in the universe. Even so, it is now very weak and cold, but a long time ago it was very strong and very hot.
The Big Bang might also have been the beginning of time. If the Big Bang was the beginning of time, then there was no universe before the Big Bang, since there was no concept of "before" without time. Other ideas state that the Big Bang was not the beginning of time 13.8 billion years ago. Instead, some believe that there was a different universe before and it may have been very different from the one we know today.
Graphical timeline of the universe[change | change source]
A great deal happened in the first second of the universe's life:
References[change | change source]
- NASA. "Universe 101:Big Bang theory". http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/bb_theory.html. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
- Sullivan, Walter (August 22, 2001). "Fred Hoyle dies at 86; opposed 'Big Bang' but named it". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/22/world/fred-hoyle-dies-at-86-opposed-big-bang-but-named-it.html?pagewanted=1. Retrieved 2010-01-28.
- Chris LaRocco and Blair Rothstein. "The Big Bang: it sure was BIG!". http://www.umich.edu/~gs265/bigbang.htm. Retrieved 2010-01-28.