Once aloft a time, about 14 billion years ago, a amazing accident took place.
The Universe and aggregate it contains, including matter, radiation, alien particles, and maybe alike added abstruse concepts such as time and concrete laws, came into existence.
By belief how the Universe has acquired through time, it is accessible to “calculate backwards” and anatomy a account of the concrete altitude one billion years, a thousand years, a day, a second, or a nanosecond afterwards the Big Bang. The added aback in time, the added acute the altitude were, and the faster the Universe evolved.
But it is one affair to accept the equations that alarm the temperature, or the conception of new particles, or commodity else. How would it feel to absolutely attestant it? What would it attending like? What would you experience?
Let’s acquisition out! We charge aboriginal accouter our eyewitness — let’s alarm her Alice, as I am currently alert to the song “Alice” by Tom Waits, and aback it is a accepted name for victims of anticipation abstracts —with a Magical Amplitude SuitTM, able to bear acute heat, pressure, density, radiation, and stretch. She will additionally charge a brace of sunglasses, because until the Universe was a actor years old it was dazzlingly bright.
You can chase Alice’s adventure in the alternate clear below. But afore we set off, we charge to authorize a few things.
Interactive: Bang to analyze the colour of the Universe from the Big Bang to today. If examination on a buzz you may ambition to circle your awning and enlarge to view. Alternatively bang to appearance in a new browser tab, and circle your buzz to appearance in abounding screen. (Graphic: ScienceNordic)
Because ablaze does not biking always fast, we see aggregate as it was in the past. Aback you analysis your phone, you attending a nanosecond aback in time, aback that is how continued it took the ablaze particles to biking 30 centimetres. Aback you attending at the Moon, you attending a acceptable added aback in time, because the Moon is 400,000 kilometres away. And aback you beam a galaxy a billion lightyears away, you are absolutely attractive a billion years aback in time.
We can admeasurement the density, temperature, and added concrete quantities of the Universe. Observing the acceleration of galaxies acquaint us that the Universe is expanding. If we account backwards, we can assignment out the concrete altitude in beforehand epochs.
In this way, we are absolutely appealing assertive about what happened all the way aback to beneath than a added afterwards the Big Bang. This is because we can not abandoned calculate, but additionally accomplish abstracts in huge atom accelerators such as CERN, to charm the altitude that prevailed at that time, and affirm that we’re not absolutely wrong.
But we don’t apperceive annihilation about the actual aboriginal atom of a atom of a added — the alleged “Planck Epoch.” At this time, the altitude were so acute that concrete laws breach down. Conceivably it does not alike accomplish faculty to allocution about amplitude and time at this point in the Universe’s history.How big is the Universe?
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We don’t apperceive how big the Universe is. We can abandoned see the allotment of it from which ablaze has had the time to ability us. This allotment is alleged “the appreciable Universe,” and because the Universe is 13.8 billion years old, you ability anticipate that we can attending 13.8 lightyears in all directions. But because it expands, it is somewhat bigger, in actuality a acceptable 46 billion lightyears.
We assume, admitting we are not certain, that the Universe alfresco our little balloon goes on forever. If that is true, afresh it was “born” always large. Although it absolutely makes concrete faculty to allocution about an always ample Universe that grows or shrinks, it is assuredly adamantine to visualise. So we commonly accede the admeasurement of the appreciable Universe instead.
It is important to apperceive that, no amount the admeasurement of the Universe, the Big Bang was not an “explosion” in the faculty that a close array of amount started overextension out through space. Rather, it was the conception of space, and conceivably time itself, and the consecutive amplification of this space.
This begs the question, “what does it aggrandize in?” and “what’s outside?” It’s adamantine to brainstorm an complete Universe expanding, let abandoned a bound Universe that is not anchored in some beyond dimensional space.But nonetheless, that is what we anticipate is happening. In added words, it is artlessly accretion “in itself.”
Now, with ‘Cosmology 101’ out of the way, let’s re-join Alice as she starts her journey.
The charcoal of a brilliant that burnt out 10,000 years ago. The colours announce a cardinal of elements: Nitrogen (red), hydrogen (green), oxygen (blue), and helium (violet). (Photo: NASA/ESA/STScI)
As mentioned above, we don’t apperceive annihilation about the actual aboriginal breach second. We know, however, that aggregate was acutely dense, because what will afterwards become our appreciable Universe is at this time abate than an diminutive nucleus.
First, force is created, and afresh the “strong” nuclear force. Some alien particles accelerate from this acute activity density, including the Higgs boson, which is amenable for the actual abstraction of mass.
But at first, Alice does not acknowledge any of this inferno. Ablaze has not yet been created, so to her, aggregate is dark.
Suddenly, amplitude itself begins to aggrandize exponentially fast.
This era is alleged “inflation,” and aback it comes to a halt, what will afterwards become the appreciable Universe has, in a breach second, developed from actuality abate than an diminutive basis to 20 metres in diameter. It is still abandoned the admeasurement of a house, but about speaking the Universe has developed as abundant during this atom of a added as it has anytime since.
Whatever is in amplitude charge chase the expansion. Except Alice’s abracadabra amplitude clothing of course, and what luck, because afterwards it her arch and her feet, which at this time are abundant bigger than the appreciable Universe, would be broken 20 billion lightyears apart!
After inflation, aggregate continues to expand. At the aforementioned time, the temperature drops. It is like aback the gas from an aphotic lighter feels cold: The gas is aeroemism central the lighter but aback it escapes, it expands and cools.
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During inflation, the Universe briefly supercools from a billion billion billion degrees, to about complete zero. But aback aggrandizement is over, aloof as Alice thinks “Brrr… maybe it’s accepting a bit too cold”, the alleged reheating action access the temperature afresh to 10 billion abundance degrees. At this time, new breed of particles are created, including ablaze in the anatomy of photons.
Because the temperature is so abundantly high, all particles are actual energy-rich, and the all-inclusive majority of photons are accordingly gamma rays. But a baby allotment of the ablaze spectrum extends over x-rays, ultraviolet light, and arresting light, which is of best absorption to Alice.
So, what is the aboriginal colour that Alice observes? What was the colour of Big Bang?
The appellation “colour” is in actuality a cerebral concept. The colour that the academician perceives depends on the administration of ablaze in the three amicableness ranges sensed by the cones of the eyes, namely red, green, and blue.
If commodity emits ablaze because it is hot, you can account its spectrum and afterwards assignment out its colour in red, green, and blue. Alice herself is not so warm, so she mostly emits in the energy-weak bittersweet light, and a animal eye is not acute abundant to apperceive the tiny allotment of it that sits in the arresting spectrum.
A allotment of hot, beaming adamant emits mostly in the red. If it gets absolutely hot, it emits about appropriately in both red, green, and blue, and that is interpreted by the academician as “white light”.
If the temperature is abundantly high, the spectrum peaks in the blue, and in the absolute of an complete temperature, the colour approaches a sapphire-blue hue.
Thus, what Alice sees about her is the sapphire-blue of this hot quark-gluon claret soup, as apparent in the angel below.
Alice’s amplitude clothing is of advance able with an cyberbanking colour meter, and she measures the colour assimilation of the Universe to be 63 per cent, 71 per cent, and 100 per cent in red, green, and blue, respectively.
That is, she would if it had worked, but the Universe is still abandoned 1/100 of a millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a added old, and electricity does not yet exist.
The ‘colour’ of Big Bang (Image: Peter Laursen).
Alice charge delay a abounding picosecond (0.000000000001 seconds) afore the electromagnetic force is created. That ability not complete like a continued wait, but as with aggregate in amplitude and time, it is all relative! For Alice, this added delay time is according to a hundred quintillions times best than her absolute adventure time so far.
At this time, the “weak” force is additionally created. This agency that all four armament of the Universe are now established, the added three actuality the electromagnetic force, gravity, and the “strong” force.
Strictly speaking, all of these armament existed already, but they were alloyed as one distinct unified force until they began amid into their “individual” forces.
With these four armament in place, particles can now collaborate with the Higgs boson and appropriately accretion mass.For Alice, this agency that she now weighs something. But aback abandoned appearance standards will not abide for addition 13.8 billion years, she is not so agitated about this abrupt weight gain.
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Alice’s ambience are appealing boring; aggregate is absolutely analogously distributed, so no amount area she looks, she sees the aforementioned thing.
But wait… tiny irregularities are formed by the breakthrough automated ambiguity principle, which says that there is a axiological lower limit, in agreement of how exact it makes faculty to be aback talking about the position of an object.
Quantum mechanics alarm processes on actual baby scales, from the admeasurement of atoms and below. But because of the acute expansion, the baby ingeneities are pumped up to ample proportions.
And what luck! Had aggregate been absolutely smooth, it would always abide so. But instead, there abide ever-so-small chastening that counterbalance a tiny bit added than their ambience and can accordingly cull on a little added matter. This allows them to abound and eventually anatomy the anatomy in the Universe that turns into galaxies, stars, planets, and ultimately, us.
But is amount able to array sufficiently, afore amplification pulls it too far apart? (Spoiler alert: Yes, or abroad you would not be account this!)
Actually, if the abandoned amount that existed was the being that Alice can see, afresh this could not happen. But luckily, for every gram of amount there are about bristles grams of some other, airy amount that provides the added force bare to let amount array together. We alarm this, aphotic matter.
The Universe has now cooled to 10 actor billion degrees and is about as ample as the ambit from the Earth to the Sun today. The array that will one day about-face into the Milky Way is 100 kilometres in radius, about the admeasurement of Sierra Leone.
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The Universe keeps accretion because of the acceleration it acquired by inflation, but the amplification amount boring decelerates due to the alternate allure of all particles.
However, alike a abounding nanosecond afterwards the Big Bang, amplification is so accelerated that altar added than a accent abroad from Alice, are affective abroad from her faster than the acceleration of light. Aloof a microsecond later, it is algid abundant that quarks accept alloyed to anatomy neutrons and protons.
The Universe is now the admeasurement of the Solar System, but the body of amount and radiation is still 1,000 times college than a neutron star, the best bunched affair that exists today.
Alice now sees not abandoned particles, but additionally antiparticles advancing into existence.
An antiparticle is like the particle’s angry twin, and if a atom meets its antiparticle they both cease to abide and new particles are created. Some of these new particles are photons — light.
Structure formation: The aboriginal three images are from a computer simulation of the access of force on matter, assuming how the anatomy of the Universe (galaxies and clusters of galaxies) are formed. The fourth angel is from the Hubble Amplitude Telescope’s Ultra Deep Field (credit: NASA/ESA), assuming a few thousand galaxies (and a distinct brilliant in our own galaxy in the lower right). (Illustration: Peter Laursen)
For affidavit that we do not yet understand, for every 10 billion antiparticles that existed there were 10 billion and one particle, accord or take.
At a admirable old age of one second, the Universe has now swelled to 10 lightyears in radius, and all antiprotons accept annihilated with protons, antineutrons with neutrons, and so on. The tiny surplus of “normal” particles is what today comprises the arresting cosmos.
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Another ten abnormal goes by and electrons and antielectrons are up! The Universe has now cooled to a few billion degrees, but aback 99.99999999 per cent of all particles are adapted to authentic light, the Universe aback blazes with a admirable light.
In the alpha of this particle-eats-particle inferno, the body is so aerial that Alice actually cannot see a duke in advanced of her face as ablaze is consistently broadcast by the electrons.
But aback all of a abrupt the majority of the electrons abandon into the (sapphire) blue, the afterimage increases to… boom cycle please… how ample can it be? A gazillion lightyears?! Ah, no, 20 metres. Not actual impressive! But it doesn’t absolutely amount aback there is not that abundant to see yet anyway: Behind the bleary blind it is, well, aloof added of the same.
After a few minutes, the temperature has collapsed beneath a billion degrees, and an important aeon in the history of the Universe bliss in — nucleosynthesis. It is now algid abundant that protons, which are in actuality the aforementioned as hydrogen, agglutinate to anatomy added elements.
Alas, beatitude is short-lived: The body of the Universe is abbreviating due to expansion, and at 15-minutes-old, it has about the aforementioned body as baptize on Earth. Nucleosynthesis is advancing to an end.So far, abandoned helium and a little bit of lithium accept had time to form. All the added atoms will not be formed for hundreds of millions of years, in stars and their afterlife explosions.
That’s it, folks. Afterwards aloof a division of an hour, the Big Bang is over, and now annihilation abundant happens for bags of years.
Every time a aloof atom tries to form, the electron is anon broken off by a awful active photon. But at 380,000-years-old, the temperature of the Universe has collapsed to 3,000 degrees, has acquired a nice orange-red tint, and is algid abundant that hydrogen atoms may abide neutral.Consequently, the blurred electron blind is aerial and ablaze escapes – decouples – from matter.
The Universe is now about a actor lightyears in diameter, and ablaze streams advisedly through the absolute Universe, as it has done anytime since.
The chastening of amount that Alice saw anatomy accept developed bigger, but are at the time of decoupling still actual small; the densest regions are 1/100,000 times denser than the best adulterate regions. Nevertheless, this is abundant for the radiation that is appear to not display the aforementioned amicableness everywhere.
And this ablaze — the hardly aberrant afterglow of Big Bang, accepted as “the catholic bake background” — is now the best abroad affair we are able to see. Abundant of what we apperceive about Big Bang, and of the Universe in general, we accept gleaned from belief this light.
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Alice has had the time of her activity and can now put her amplitude clothing and sunglasses aback on the shelf.
If in the concurrently you accept absent clue of amplitude and time, you’ll acquisition an continued graphical timeline of the Big Bang (and the blow of the history of the Universe) here.
While autograph this commodity I’ve accounting a cipher alleged timeline which computes the backdrop (size, temperature, colour, amplification rate, and more) of the Universe at assorted times in its history. The cipher is accounting in the accent Python, and may be retrieved here.
Or analysis out our alternate clear above.
—————Read this commodity in Danish at ForskerZonen, allotment of Videnskab.dk
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