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Big Bang

The Big Bang is the cosmological model of the universe whose primary assertion is that the universe has expanded into its current state from a primordial condition of enormous density and temperature.

The term is also used in a narrower sense to describe the fundamental "fireball" that erupted at or close to an initial timepoint in the history of our observed spacetime.

Theoretical support for the Big Bang comes from mathematical models.

These models show that a Big Bang is consistent with general relativity and with the cosmological principle, which states that the properties of the universe should be independent of position or orientation.

Observational evidence for the Big Bang includes the analysis of the spectrum of light from galaxies, which reveal a shift towards longer wavelengths proportional to each galaxy's distance in a relationship described by Hubble's law.

Combined with the assumption that observers located anywhere in the universe would make similar observations (the Copernican principle), this suggests that space itself is expanding.

The next most important observational evidence was the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation in 1964.

This had been predicted as a relic from when hot ionized plasma of the early universe first cooled sufficiently to form neutral hydrogen and allow space to become transparent to light, and its discovery led to general acceptance among physicists that the Big Bang is the best model for the origin and evolution of the universe.

A third important line of evidence is the relative proportion of light elements in the universe, which is a close match to predictions for the formation of light elements in the first minutes of the universe, according to Big Bang nucleosynthesis.

Extrapolation of the expansion of the universe backwards in time using general relativity yields an infinite density and temperature at a finite time in the past.

This singularity signals the breakdown of general relativity.

How closely we can extrapolate towards the singularity is debated—certainly not earlier than the Planck epoch.

The early hot, dense phase is itself referred to as "the Big Bang", and is considered the "birth" of our universe.

Based on measurements of the expansion using Type Ia supernovae, measurements of temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, and measurements of the correlation function of galaxies, the universe has a calculated age of 13.7 ± 0.2 billion years.

The earliest phases of the Big Bang are subject to much speculation.

In the most common models, the universe was filled homogeneously and isotropically with an incredibly high energy density, huge temperatures and pressures, and was very rapidly expanding and cooling.

Approximately 10−35 seconds into the expansion, a phase transition caused a cosmic inflation, during which the universe grew exponentially.

After inflation stopped, the universe consisted of a quark-gluon plasma, as well as all other elementary particles.

Temperatures were so high that the random motions of particles were at relativistic speeds, and particle-antiparticle pairs of all kinds were being continuously created and destroyed in collisions.

At some point an unknown reaction called baryogenesis violated the conservation of baryon number, leading to a very small excess of quarks and leptons over antiquarks and anti-leptons — of the order of 1 part in 30 million.

This resulted in the predominance of matter over antimatter in the present universe.

Note:   The above text is excerpted from the Wikipedia article "Big Bang", which has been released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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Space & Time News
February 20, 2017

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updated 12:56 pm ET