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Physical cosmology is a branch of
cosmology Cosmology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the
universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, galaxy, galaxies, and all other forms of matter and energy. The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological description of the development ...

universe
and allows study of fundamental questions about its origin, structure, evolution, and ultimate fate.For an overview, see
Cosmology Cosmology (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
as a
science Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is something that is truth, true. The usual test for a statement of ...

science
originated with the
Copernican principle In physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe ...
, which implies that
celestial bodies In astronomy Astronomy (from el, ἀστρονομία, literally meaning the science that studies the laws of the stars) is a natural science that studies astronomical object, celestial objects and celestial event, phenomena. It uses ...
obey identical
physical law Scientific laws or laws of science are statements, based on repeated experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support or refute a , or determine the or of something previously untried. Experiments provide insight into by d ...
s to those on Earth, and
Newtonian mechanics Newton's laws of motion are three Scientific law, laws of classical mechanics that describe the relationship between the motion of an object and the forces acting on it. These laws can be paraphrased as follows: ''Law 1''. A body continues ...
, which first allowed those physical laws to be understood. Physical cosmology, as it is now understood, began with the development in 1915 of
Albert Einstein Albert Einstein ( ; ; 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist, widely acknowledged to be one of the greatest physicists of all time. Einstein is known for developing the theory of relativity The theo ...

Albert Einstein
's
general theory of relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the differential geometry, geometric scientific theory, theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in modern ph ...
, followed by major observational discoveries in the 1920s: first,
Edwin Hubble Edwin Powell Hubble (November 20, 1889 – September 28, 1953) was an American astronomer. He played a crucial role in establishing the fields of extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology. Hubble proved that many objects previously ...
discovered that the universe contains a huge number of external
galaxies A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to ...

galaxies
beyond the
Milky Way The Milky Way is the galaxy A galaxy is a gravitation Gravity (), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass Mass is both a property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and con ...

Milky Way
; then, work by
Vesto Slipher Vesto Melvin Slipher (; November 11, 1875 – November 8, 1969) was an American astronomer who performed the first measurements of radial velocities for galaxies. He was the first to discover that distant galaxies are redshifts, redshifted, thus pr ...
and others showed that the universe is
expanding
expanding
. These advances made it possible to speculate about the
origin of the universe Cosmogony is any model concerning the origin of either the cosmos or the universe. Overview Scientific theories In astronomy, cosmogony refers to the study of the origin of particular astrophysical objects or systems, and is most common ...
, and allowed the establishment of the
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...

Big Bang
theory, by
Georges Lemaître Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître ( ; ; 17 July 1894 – 20 June 1966) was a Belgium, Belgian Catholic Church, Catholic Priesthood in the Catholic Church, priest, Theoretical physics, theoretical physicist, mathematics, mathematician, ast ...
, as the leading cosmological model. A few researchers still advocate a handful of alternative cosmologies; however, most cosmologists agree that the Big Bang theory best explains the observations. Dramatic advances in observational cosmology since the 1990s, including the
cosmic microwave background The cosmic microwave background (CMB, CMBR), in Big Bang The Big Bang Scientific theory, theory is the prevailing cosmological model explaining the existence of the observable universe from the Planck units#Cosmology, earliest known perio ...
, distant
supernovae (bright spot on the lower left), a type Ia supernova within its host galaxy, NGC 4526 A supernova ( plural: supernovae or supernovas, abbreviations: SN and SNe) is a powerful and luminous stellar explosion. This transient astronomical event occ ...

supernovae
and galaxy
redshift survey In astronomy, a redshift survey is a astronomical surveys, survey of a section of the sky to measure the redshift of astronomical objects: usually galaxies, but sometimes other objects such as galaxy clusters or quasars. Using Hubble's law, the ...
s, have led to the development of a standard model of cosmology. This model requires the universe to contain large amounts of
dark matter Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, ...

dark matter
and
dark energy In physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the unive ...

dark energy
whose nature is currently not well understood, but the model gives detailed predictions that are in excellent agreement with many diverse observations. Cosmology draws heavily on the work of many disparate areas of research in theoretical and applied
physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "Physical scie ...

physics
. Areas relevant to cosmology include
particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which rel ...
experiments and
theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (from Ancient Greek, G ...
, theoretical and observational
astrophysics Astrophysics is a science that employs the methods and principles of physics in the study of astronomical objects and phenomena. Among the subjects studied are the Sun, other stars, galaxy, galaxies, extrasolar planets, the interstellar medium and ...
,
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
,
quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such thinking. The process of contemplative and rational thinking is often associated with ...
, and
plasma physics Plasma () 1, where \nu_ is the electron gyrofrequency and \nu_ is the electron collision rate. It is often the case that the electrons are magnetized while the ions are not. Magnetized plasmas are ''anisotropic'', meaning that their properties ...
.


Subject history

Modern cosmology developed along tandem tracks of theory and observation. In 1916, Albert Einstein published his theory of
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
, which provided a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time. At the time, Einstein believed in a
static universe In cosmology, a static universe (also referred to as stationary, infinite, static infinite or static eternal) is a cosmological model in which the universe is both Space, spatially and Time, temporally infinite, and space is neither metric expansi ...
, but found that his original formulation of the theory did not permit it. This is because masses distributed throughout the universe gravitationally attract, and move toward each other over time. However, he realized that his equations permitted the introduction of a constant term which could counteract the attractive force of gravity on the cosmic scale. Einstein published his first paper on relativistic cosmology in 1917, in which he added this '' cosmological constant'' to his field equations in order to force them to model a static universe. The Einstein model describes a static universe; space is finite and unbounded (analogous to the surface of a sphere, which has a finite area but no edges). However, this so-called Einstein model is unstable to small perturbations—it will eventually start to expand or contract. It was later realized that Einstein's model was just one of a larger set of possibilities, all of which were consistent with general relativity and the cosmological principle. The cosmological solutions of general relativity were found by
Alexander Friedmann Alexander Alexandrovich Friedmann (also spelled Friedman or Fridman ; russian: Алекса́ндр Алекса́ндрович Фри́дман) (June 16 .S. 4 1888 – September 16, 1925) was a Russian and Soviet The Soviet Union,. offi ...
in the early 1920s. His equations describe the Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker universe, which may expand or contract, and whose geometry may be open, flat, or closed. In the 1910s,
Vesto Slipher Vesto Melvin Slipher (; November 11, 1875 – November 8, 1969) was an American astronomer who performed the first measurements of radial velocities for galaxies. He was the first to discover that distant galaxies are redshifts, redshifted, thus pr ...
(and later Carl Wilhelm Wirtz) interpreted the
red shift In physics, a redshift is an increase in the wavelength In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that stud ...
of as a
Doppler shift The Doppler effect or Doppler shift (or simply Doppler, when in context) is the change in frequency of a wave in relation to an observer (physics), observer who is moving relative to the wave source. It is named after the Austrian physicist ...

Doppler shift
that indicated they were receding from Earth. However, it is difficult to determine the distance to astronomical objects. One way is to compare the physical size of an object to its
angular size The angular diameter, angular size, apparent diameter, or apparent size is an angular distance describing how large a sphere of a sphere A sphere (from Greek language, Greek —, "globe, ball") is a Geometry, geometrical object in solid geometr ...

angular size
, but a physical size must be assumed to do this. Another method is to measure the
brightness Brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light. In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target. It is not necessarily proportional to lumina ...

brightness
of an object and assume an intrinsic
luminosity Luminosity is an absolute measure of radiated electromagnetic power (light), the radiant power emitted by a light-emitting object over time. In astronomy, luminosity is the total amount of electromagnetic energy emitted per unit of time by a s ...

luminosity
, from which the distance may be determined using the
inverse-square law 420px, S represents the light source, while r represents the measured points. The lines represent the flux emanating from the sources and fluxes. The total number of flux lines depends on the strength of the light source and is constant with in ...

inverse-square law
. Due to the difficulty of using these methods, they did not realize that the nebulae were actually galaxies outside our own
Milky Way The Milky Way is the galaxy A galaxy is a gravitation Gravity (), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass Mass is both a property Property (''latin: Res Privata'') in the Abstract and con ...

Milky Way
, nor did they speculate about the cosmological implications. In 1927, the
Belgian Belgian may refer to: * Something of, or related to, Belgium Belgium, ; french: Belgique ; german: Belgien officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a country in Western Europe Western Europe is the region of Europe Europe is a contine ...

Belgian
Roman Catholic Roman or Romans most often refers to: *Rome , established_title = Founded , established_date = 753 BC , founder = King Romulus , image_map = Map of comune of Rome (metropolitan city of Capital Rome, region Laz ...

Roman Catholic
priest A priest is a religious leader Clergy are formal leaders within established religion Religion is a social Social organisms, including humans, live collectively in interacting populations. This interaction is considered social w ...

priest
Georges Lemaître Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître ( ; ; 17 July 1894 – 20 June 1966) was a Belgium, Belgian Catholic Church, Catholic Priesthood in the Catholic Church, priest, Theoretical physics, theoretical physicist, mathematics, mathematician, ast ...
independently derived the Friedmann–Lemaître–Robertson–Walker equations and proposed, on the basis of the recession of spiral nebulae, that the universe began with the "explosion" of a "primeval
atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of ato ...

atom
"—which was later called the
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...

Big Bang
. In 1929,
Edwin Hubble Edwin Powell Hubble (November 20, 1889 – September 28, 1953) was an American astronomer. He played a crucial role in establishing the fields of extragalactic astronomy and observational cosmology. Hubble proved that many objects previously ...
provided an observational basis for Lemaître's theory. Hubble showed that the spiral nebulae were galaxies by determining their distances using measurements of the brightness of
Cepheid variable A Cepheid variable () is a type of star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma (physics), plasma held together by its own gravity. The List of nearest stars and brown dwarfs, nearest star to Earth is the ...
stars. He discovered a relationship between the redshift of a galaxy and its distance. He interpreted this as evidence that the galaxies are receding from Earth in every direction at speeds proportional to their distance. This fact is now known as
Hubble's law Hubble's law, also known as the Hubble–Lemaître law, is the observation in physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides ...
, though the numerical factor Hubble found relating recessional velocity and distance was off by a factor of ten, due to not knowing about the types of Cepheid variables. Given the
cosmological principle In modern physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the ...
, Hubble's law suggested that the universe was expanding. Two primary explanations were proposed for the expansion. One was Lemaître's Big Bang theory, advocated and developed by George Gamow. The other explanation was
Fred Hoyle Sir Fred Hoyle Fellow of the Royal Society, FRS (24 June 1915 – 20 August 2001) was an English astronomer who formulated the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis. He also held controversial stances on other scientific matters—in particula ...
's
steady state model In cosmology Cosmology (from Ancient Greek, Greek κόσμος, ''kosmos'' "world" and -λογία, ''-logia'' "study of") is a branch of astronomy concerned with the studies of the origin and evolution of the universe, from the Big Bang to ...
in which new matter is created as the galaxies move away from each other. In this model, the universe is roughly the same at any point in time. For a number of years, support for these theories was evenly divided. However, the observational evidence began to support the idea that the universe evolved from a hot dense state. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background in 1965 lent strong support to the Big Bang model, and since the precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background by the
Cosmic Background Explorer The Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE ), also referred to as Explorer 66, was a satellite In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object that has been intentionally placed into orbit. These objects are called artificial satellites to ...
in the early 1990s, few cosmologists have seriously proposed other theories of the origin and evolution of the cosmos. One consequence of this is that in standard general relativity, the universe began with a
singularity Singularity or singular point may refer to: Science, technology, and mathematics Mathematics * Mathematical singularity, a point at which a given mathematical object is not defined or not "well-behaved", for example infinite or not differentiabl ...
, as demonstrated by
Roger Penrose Sir Roger Penrose (born 8 August 1931) is a British mathematician A mathematician is someone who uses an extensive knowledge of mathematics Mathematics (from Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as numbers ( and ), formulas an ...
and
Stephen Hawking Stephen William Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physics, theoretical physicist, cosmology, cosmologist, and author who, at the time of his death, was director of research at the Centre for Theoretica ...

Stephen Hawking
in the 1960s. An alternative view to extend the Big Bang model, suggesting the universe had no beginning or singularity and the age of the universe is infinite, has been presented.


Energy of the cosmos

The lightest
chemical elements In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific Science () is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge Knowledge is a familiarity or awareness, of someone or something, such as facts A fact is an occurrence ...

chemical elements
, primarily
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard temperature and pressure, standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the che ...

hydrogen
and
helium Helium (from el, ἥλιος, helios Helios; Homeric Greek: ), Latinized as Helius; Hyperion and Phaethon are also the names of his father and son respectively. often given the epithets Hyperion ("the one above") and Phaethon ("the shining" ...

helium
, were created during the
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...

Big Bang
through the process of
nucleosynthesis Nucleosynthesis is the process that creates new atomic nuclei from pre-existing nucleons (protons and neutrons) and nuclei. According to current theories, the first nuclei were formed a few minutes after the Big Bang, through nuclear reactions in ...
. In a sequence of
stellar nucleosynthesis Stellar nucleosynthesis is the creation (nucleosynthesis) of chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nu ...
reactions, smaller atomic nuclei are then combined into larger atomic nuclei, ultimately forming stable
iron group In chemistry Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with Chemical element, elements and chemical compound, compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they underg ...
elements such as
iron Iron () is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: their composition, structure, properties, behav ...

iron
and
nickel Nickel is a chemical element In chemistry, an element is a pure Chemical substance, substance consisting only of atoms that all have the same numbers of protons in their atomic nucleus, nuclei. Unlike chemical compounds, chemical elem ...

nickel
, which have the highest nuclear
binding energies In physics and chemistry, binding energy is the smallest amount of energy In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural ...
. The net process results in a ''later energy release'', meaning subsequent to the Big Bang. Such reactions of nuclear particles can lead to ''sudden energy releases'' from
cataclysmic variable star Cataclysmic variable stars (CV) are stars which irregularly increase in brightness by a large factor, then drop back down to a quiescent state. They were initially called novae, from the Latin 'new', since ones with an outburst brightness visible ...
s such as
nova frame, Artist's conception of a white dwarf, right, accreting hydrogen from the Roche lobe of its larger companion star A nova (plural novae or novas) is a transient astronomical eventA transient astronomical event, often shortened by astronome ...

nova
e. Gravitational collapse of matter into s also powers the most energetic processes, generally seen in the nuclear regions of galaxies, forming ''
quasar A quasar (; also known as a quasi-stellar object, abbreviated QSO) is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus An active galactic nucleus (AGN) is a compact region at the center of a galaxy A galaxy is a gravitation Gravity () ...

quasar
s'' and '' active galaxies''. Cosmologists cannot explain all cosmic phenomena exactly, such as those related to the
accelerating expansion of the universe Observations show that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, such that the velocity at which a distant galaxy recedes from the observer is continuously increasing with time. The accelerated expansion was discovered during 1998, by two i ...
, using conventional
forms of energy In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior thro ...
. Instead, cosmologists propose a new form of energy called
dark energy In physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the unive ...

dark energy
that permeates all space. One hypothesis is that dark energy is just the
vacuum energy Vacuum energy is an underlying background energy In physics, energy is the physical quantity, quantitative physical property, property that must be #Energy transfer, transferred to a physical body, body or physical system to perform Work ...
, a component of empty space that is associated with the
virtual particle In physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the natural science that studies matter, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior throug ...
s that exist due to the
uncertainty principle In quantum mechanics Quantum mechanics is a fundamental Scientific theory, theory in physics that provides a description of the physical properties of nature at the scale of atoms and subatomic particles. It is the foundation of all quant ...

uncertainty principle
. There is no clear way to define the total energy in the universe using the most widely accepted theory of gravity,
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
. Therefore, it remains controversial whether the total energy is conserved in an expanding universe. For instance, each
photon The photon ( el, φῶς, phōs, light) is a type of elementary particle In , an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundamental s ...

photon
that travels through intergalactic space loses energy due to the
redshift In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...

redshift
effect. This energy is not obviously transferred to any other system, so seems to be permanently lost. On the other hand, some cosmologists insist that energy is conserved in some sense; this follows the law of
conservation of energy In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular s ...
. Different forms of energy may dominate the cosmos –
relativistic particle A relativistic particle is a particle which moves with a relativistic speed; that is, a speed In everyday use and in kinematics, the speed (commonly referred to as v) of an object is the magnitude (mathematics), magnitude of the change of its ...
s which are referred to as
radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and f ...

radiation
, or non-relativistic particles referred to as matter. Relativistic particles are particles whose
rest mass The invariant mass, rest mass, intrinsic mass, proper mass, or in the case of bound systems simply mass, is the portion of the total mass of an object Object may refer to: General meanings * Object (philosophy), a thing, being, or concept ** ...
is zero or negligible compared to their
kinetic energy In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular ...
, and so move at the speed of light or very close to it; non-relativistic particles have much higher rest mass than their energy and so move much slower than the speed of light. As the universe expands, both matter and radiation become diluted. However, the of radiation and matter dilute at different rates. As a particular volume expands, mass-energy density is changed only by the increase in volume, but the energy density of radiation is changed both by the increase in volume and by the increase in the
wavelength In physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which relates to the order of nature, or, in other words, to the regular su ...

wavelength
of the
photon The photon ( el, φῶς, phōs, light) is a type of elementary particle In , an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundamental s ...

photon
s that make it up. Thus the energy of radiation becomes a smaller part of the universe's total energy than that of matter as it expands. The very early universe is said to have been 'radiation dominated' and radiation controlled the deceleration of expansion. Later, as the average energy per photon becomes roughly 10 eV and lower, matter dictates the rate of deceleration and the universe is said to be 'matter dominated'. The intermediate case is not treated well analytically. As the expansion of the universe continues, matter dilutes even further and the cosmological constant becomes dominant, leading to an acceleration in the universe's expansion.


History of the universe

The history of the universe is a central issue in cosmology. The history of the universe is divided into different periods called epochs, according to the dominant forces and processes in each period. The standard cosmological model is known as the Lambda-CDM model.


Equations of motion

Within the standard cosmological model, the
equations of motion In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. ...
governing the universe as a whole are derived from
general relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the geometric Geometry (from the grc, γεωμετρία; '' geo-'' "earth", '' -metron'' "measurement") is, with arithmetic, one of the oldest branches of mathema ...
with a small, positive cosmological constant. The solution is an expanding universe; due to this expansion, the radiation and matter in the universe cool down and become diluted. At first, the expansion is slowed down by
gravitation Gravity (), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon Types of natural phenomena include: Weather, fog, thunder, tornadoes; biological processes, decomposition, germination seedlings, three days after germination. Germination is t ...

gravitation
attracting the
radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and f ...

radiation
and matter in the universe. However, as these become diluted, the cosmological constant becomes more dominant and the expansion of the universe starts to accelerate rather than decelerate. In our universe this happened billions of years ago.


Particle physics in cosmology

During the earliest moments of the universe, the average
energy density In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and time, and the related entities of energy and force. "P ...

energy density
was very high, making knowledge of
particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics is the that studies , its , its and behavior through , and the related entities of and . "Physical science is that department of knowledge which rel ...
critical to understanding this environment. Hence,
scattering Scattering is a term used in physics to describe a wide range of physical processes where moving particles or radiation of some form, such as light Light or visible light is electromagnetic radiation within the portion of the electromagnetic ...

scattering
processes and decay of unstable
elementary particles In particle physics, an elementary particle or fundamental particle is a subatomic particle that is not composed of other particles. Particles currently thought to be elementary include the fundamental fermions (quarks, leptons, antiquarks, and a ...
are important for cosmological models of this period. As a rule of thumb, a scattering or a decay process is cosmologically important in a certain epoch if the time scale describing that process is smaller than, or comparable to, the time scale of the expansion of the universe. The time scale that describes the expansion of the universe is 1/H with H being the
Hubble parameter Hubble's law, also known as the Hubble–Lemaître law, is the observation in physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides ...
, which varies with time. The expansion timescale 1/H is roughly equal to the age of the universe at each point in time.


Timeline of the Big Bang

Observations suggest that the universe began around 13.8 billion years ago. Since then, the evolution of the universe has passed through three phases. The very early universe, which is still poorly understood, was the split second in which the universe was so hot that
particles In the Outline of physical science, physical sciences, a particle (or corpuscule in older texts) is a small wikt:local, localized physical body, object to which can be ascribed several physical property, physical or chemical , chemical properties ...
had energies higher than those currently accessible in
particle accelerator A particle accelerator is a machine that uses electromagnetic fields to propel electric charge, charged particles to very high speeds and energies, and to contain them in well-defined particle beam, beams. Large accelerators are used for funda ...
s on Earth. Therefore, while the basic features of this epoch have been worked out in the Big Bang theory, the details are largely based on educated guesses. Following this, in the early universe, the evolution of the universe proceeded according to known
high energy physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacet ...
. This is when the first protons, electrons and neutrons formed, then nuclei and finally atoms. With the formation of neutral hydrogen, the
cosmic microwave background The cosmic microwave background (CMB, CMBR), in Big Bang The Big Bang Scientific theory, theory is the prevailing cosmological model explaining the existence of the observable universe from the Planck units#Cosmology, earliest known perio ...
was emitted. Finally, the epoch of structure formation began, when matter started to aggregate into the first
star A star is an astronomical object consisting of a luminous spheroid of plasma Plasma or plasm may refer to: Science * Plasma (physics), one of the four fundamental states of matter * Plasma (mineral) or heliotrope, a mineral aggregate * Quark ...

star
s and
quasar A quasar (; also known as a quasi-stellar object, abbreviated QSO) is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus An active galactic nucleus (AGN) is a compact region at the center of a galaxy A galaxy is a gravitation Gravity () ...

quasar
s, and ultimately galaxies, clusters of galaxies and
supercluster A supercluster is a large group of smaller galaxy clusters or galaxy groups; it is among the largest known structures of the universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, ...
s formed. The future of the universe is not yet firmly known, but according to the ΛCDM model it will continue expanding forever.


Areas of study

Below, some of the most active areas of inquiry in cosmology are described, in roughly chronological order. This does not include all of the Big Bang cosmology, which is presented in ''
Timeline of the Big Bang The chronology of the universe describes the history and future of the universe according to Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a reason, rational type of abstraction, abstract thinking about a phenomenon, or the results of such t ...
.''


Very early universe

The early, hot universe appears to be well explained by the Big Bang from roughly 10−33 seconds onwards, but there are several
problems Problem solving consists of using generic or ad hoc methods in an orderly manner to find solutions to problems. Some of the problem-solving techniques developed and used in philosophy, artificial intelligence, computer science, engineering, ma ...
. One is that there is no compelling reason, using current particle physics, for the universe to be flat, homogeneous, and
isotropic Isotropy is uniformity in all orientations; it is derived from the Greek ''isos'' (ἴσος, "equal") and ''tropos'' (τρόπος, "way"). Precise definitions depend on the subject area. Exceptions, or inequalities, are frequently indicated by ...
''(see the
cosmological principle In modern physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the ...
)''. Moreover,
grand unified theories A Grand Unified Theory (GUT) is a model in particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of natur ...
of particle physics suggest that there should be
magnetic monopole In particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is th ...
s in the universe, which have not been found. These problems are resolved by a brief period of
cosmic inflation In physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology Cosmology (from Ancient Greek, Greek κόσμος, ''kosmos'' "world" and -λογία, ''-logia'' "study of") is a branch of astronomy concerned with the study of the ch ...
, which drives the universe to flatness, smooths out anisotropies and inhomogeneities to the observed level, and exponentially dilutes the monopoles. The physical model behind cosmic inflation is extremely simple, but it has not yet been confirmed by particle physics, and there are difficult problems reconciling inflation and
quantum field theory In theoretical physics, quantum field theory (QFT) is a theoretical framework that combines classical field theory, special relativity and quantum mechanics. QFT is used in particle physics to construct physical models of subatomic particles and ...
. Some cosmologists think that
string theory In physics, string theory is a Mathematical theory, theoretical framework in which the Point particle, point-like particles of particle physics are replaced by Dimension (mathematics and physics), one-dimensional objects called String (physic ...

string theory
and
brane cosmology Brane cosmology refers to several theories in particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of na ...
will provide an alternative to inflation. Another major problem in cosmology is what caused the universe to contain far more matter than
antimatter In modern physics Modern physics is a branch of physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Motion (physics), motion and behavior through Spacetime, space and ...

antimatter
. Cosmologists can observationally deduce that the universe is not split into regions of matter and antimatter. If it were, there would be
X-ray An X-ray, or, much less commonly, X-radiation, is a penetrating form of high-energy electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, its Moti ...

X-ray
s and
gamma ray A gamma ray, also known as gamma radiation (symbol γ or \gamma), is a penetrating form of electromagnetic radiation In physics Physics is the natural science that studies matter, its Elementary particle, fundamental constituents, it ...
s produced as a result of
annihilation In particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of nature, from ''phýsis'' 'nature'), , is the ...

annihilation
, but this is not observed. Therefore, some process in the early universe must have created a small excess of matter over antimatter, and this (currently not understood) process is called ''
baryogenesis In physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the univers ...
''. Three required conditions for baryogenesis were derived by
Andrei Sakharov Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov ( rus, Андре́й Дми́триевич Са́харов, p=ɐnˈdrʲej dmʲiˈtrʲɪjevʲɪtɕ ˈsaxərəf; 21 May 192114 December 1989) was a Russian nuclear physicist Nuclear physics is the field of physic ...
in 1967, and requires a violation of the particle physics
symmetry Symmetry (from Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is appro ...
, called
CP-symmetry In particle physics, CP violation is a violation of CP-symmetry (or charge conjugation parity symmetry): the combination of C-symmetry (Charge (physics), charge symmetry) and Parity (physics), P-symmetry (Parity (physics), parity symmetry). CP-sy ...
, between matter and antimatter. However, particle accelerators measure too small a violation of CP-symmetry to account for the baryon asymmetry. Cosmologists and particle physicists look for additional violations of the CP-symmetry in the early universe that might account for the baryon asymmetry. Both the problems of baryogenesis and cosmic inflation are very closely related to particle physics, and their resolution might come from high energy theory and
experiment An experiment is a procedure carried out to support or refute a hypothesis, or determine the efficacy or likelihood of something previously untried. Experiments provide insight into Causality, cause-and-effect by demonstrating what outcome oc ...
, rather than through observations of the universe.


Big Bang Theory

Big Bang nucleosynthesis is the theory of the formation of the elements in the early universe. It finished when the universe was about three minutes old and its
temperature Temperature ( ) is a physical quantity that expresses hot and cold. It is the manifestation of thermal energy Thermal radiation in visible light can be seen on this hot metalwork. Thermal energy refers to several distinct physical concept ...

temperature
dropped below that at which
nuclear fusion Nuclear fusion is a nuclear reaction, reaction in which two or more atomic nuclei are combined to form one or more different atomic nuclei and subatomic particles (neutrons or protons). The difference in mass between the reactants and products ...

nuclear fusion
could occur. Big Bang nucleosynthesis had a brief period during which it could operate, so only the very lightest elements were produced. Starting from
hydrogen Hydrogen is the chemical element with the Symbol (chemistry), symbol H and atomic number 1. Hydrogen is the lightest element. At standard temperature and pressure, standard conditions hydrogen is a gas of diatomic molecules having the che ...

hydrogen
ion An ion () is an atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ...
s (
proton A proton is a subatomic particle, symbol or , with a positive electric charge of +1''e'' elementary charge and a mass slightly less than that of a neutron. Protons and neutrons, each with masses of approximately one atomic mass unit, are collecti ...

proton
s), it principally produced
deuterium Deuterium (or hydrogen-2, symbol or deuterium, also known as heavy hydrogen) is one of two stable isotopes The term stable isotope has a meaning similar to stable nuclide, but is preferably used when speaking of nuclides of a specific elemen ...

deuterium
,
helium-4 Helium-4 () is a stable isotope of the element helium. It is by far the more abundant of the two naturally occurring isotopes of helium, making up about 99.99986% of the helium on Earth. Its nucleus is identical to an alpha particle, and consists ...

helium-4
, and
lithium Lithium (from el, λίθος, lithos, lit=stone) is a chemical element In chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s, s and s: the ...

lithium
. Other elements were produced in only trace abundances. The basic theory of nucleosynthesis was developed in 1948 by
George Gamow George Gamow (March 4, 1904 – August 19, 1968), born Georgiy Antonovich Gamov (russian: Георгий Антонович Гамов), was a Ukrainian-American theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He was an early advocate and developer of ...
, Ralph Asher Alpher, and
Robert Herman Robert Herman (August 29, 1914 – February 13, 1997) was an American scientist, best known for his work with Ralph Alpher Ralph Asher Alpher (February 3, 1921 – August 12, 2007) was an United States, American physical cosmology, cosmologist ...
. It was used for many years as a probe of physics at the time of the Big Bang, as the theory of Big Bang nucleosynthesis connects the abundances of primordial light elements with the features of the early universe. Specifically, it can be used to test the
equivalence principle In the theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (fr ...
, to probe
dark matter Dark matter is a hypothetical form of matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of atoms, ...

dark matter
, and test
neutrino A neutrino ( or ) (denoted by the Greek letter ) is a fermion In particle physics, a fermion is a particle that follows Fermi–Dirac statistics and generally has half odd integer spin: spin 1/2, Spin (physics)#Higher spins, spin 3/2, etc. T ...

neutrino
physics. Some cosmologists have proposed that Big Bang nucleosynthesis suggests there is a fourth "sterile" species of neutrino.


Standard model of Big Bang cosmology

The ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) or
Lambda-CDM The ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) or Lambda-CDM model is a Parameter#Modelization, parameterization of the Big Bang physical cosmology, cosmological model in which the universe contains three major components: first, a cosmological constant den ...
model is a parametrization of the
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...

Big Bang
cosmological model in which the universe contains a cosmological constant, denoted by
Lambda Lambda (; uppercase , lowercase ; el, λάμ(β)δα, ''lám(b)da'') is the 11th letter of the Greek alphabet, representing the sound Dental, alveolar and postalveolar lateral approximants, /l/. In the system of Greek numerals, lambda has a ...

Lambda
(
Greek#REDIRECT Greek Greek may refer to: Greece Anything of, from, or related to Greece Greece ( el, Ελλάδα, , ), officially the Hellenic Republic, is a country located in Southeast Europe. Its population is approximately 10.7 million as of ...

Greek
Λ), associated with
dark energy In physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides a description of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the unive ...

dark energy
, and
cold dark matter In Physical cosmology, cosmology and physics, cold dark matter (CDM) is a hypothetical type of dark matter. Observations indicate that approximately 85% of the matter in the universe is dark matter, with only a small fraction being the ordinary b ...
(abbreviated CDM). It is frequently referred to as the standard model of
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...

Big Bang
cosmology.


Cosmic microwave background

The cosmic microwave background is radiation left over from decoupling after the epoch of recombination (cosmology), recombination when neutral
atom An atom is the smallest unit of ordinary matter In classical physics and general chemistry, matter is any substance that has mass and takes up space by having volume. All everyday objects that can be touched are ultimately composed of ato ...

atom
s first formed. At this point, radiation produced in the Big Bang stopped Thomson scattering from charged ions. The radiation, first observed in 1965 by Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson, has a perfect thermal black body, black-body spectrum. It has a temperature of 2.7 kelvins today and is isotropic to one part in 105. Cosmological perturbation theory, which describes the evolution of slight inhomogeneities in the early universe, has allowed cosmologists to precisely calculate the angular power spectrum of the radiation, and it has been measured by the recent satellite experiments (Cosmic Background Explorer, COBE and WMAP) and many ground and balloon-based experiments (such as Degree Angular Scale Interferometer, Cosmic Background Imager, and BOOMERanG experiment, Boomerang). One of the goals of these efforts is to measure the basic parameters of the Lambda-CDM model with increasing accuracy, as well as to test the predictions of the Big Bang model and look for new physics. The results of measurements made by WMAP, for example, have placed limits on the neutrino masses. Newer experiments, such as QUIET and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope, are trying to measure the polarization (waves), polarization of the cosmic microwave background. These measurements are expected to provide further confirmation of the theory as well as information about cosmic inflation, and the so-called secondary anisotropies, such as the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect and Sachs-Wolfe effect, which are caused by interaction between galaxy, galaxies and galaxy cluster, clusters with the cosmic microwave background. On 17 March 2014, astronomers of the BICEP and Keck Array#BICEP2, BICEP2 Collaboration announced the apparent detection of B-modes, ''B''-mode polarization (waves), polarization of the CMB, considered to be evidence of primordial gravitational waves that are predicted by the theory of inflation (cosmology), inflation to occur during the earliest phase of the
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...

Big Bang
. However, later that year the Planck spacecraft, Planck collaboration provided a more accurate measurement of cosmic dust, concluding that the B-mode signal from dust is the same strength as that reported from BICEP2. On 30 January 2015, a joint analysis of BICEP2 and Planck (spacecraft), Planck data was published and the European Space Agency announced that the signal can be entirely attributed to interstellar dust in the Milky Way.


Formation and evolution of large-scale structure

Understanding the formation and evolution of the largest and earliest structures (i.e.,
quasar A quasar (; also known as a quasi-stellar object, abbreviated QSO) is an extremely luminous active galactic nucleus An active galactic nucleus (AGN) is a compact region at the center of a galaxy A galaxy is a gravitation Gravity () ...

quasar
s, galaxy, galaxies, galaxy groups and clusters, clusters and
supercluster A supercluster is a large group of smaller galaxy clusters or galaxy groups; it is among the largest known structures of the universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, ...
s) is one of the largest efforts in cosmology. Cosmologists study a model of hierarchical structure formation in which structures form from the bottom up, with smaller objects forming first, while the largest objects, such as superclusters, are still assembling. One way to study structure in the universe is to survey the visible galaxies, in order to construct a three-dimensional picture of the galaxies in the universe and measure the matter power spectrum. This is the approach of the ''Sloan Digital Sky Survey'' and the 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey. Another tool for understanding structure formation is simulations, which cosmologists use to study the gravitational aggregation of matter in the universe, as it clusters into Galaxy filament, filaments, superclusters and void (astronomy), voids. Most simulations contain only non-baryonic
cold dark matter In Physical cosmology, cosmology and physics, cold dark matter (CDM) is a hypothetical type of dark matter. Observations indicate that approximately 85% of the matter in the universe is dark matter, with only a small fraction being the ordinary b ...
, which should suffice to understand the universe on the largest scales, as there is much more dark matter in the universe than visible, baryonic matter. More advanced simulations are starting to include baryons and study the formation of individual galaxies. Cosmologists study these simulations to see if they agree with the galaxy surveys, and to understand any discrepancy. Other, complementary observations to measure the distribution of matter in the distant universe and to probe reionization include: * The Lyman-alpha forest, which allows cosmologists to measure the distribution of neutral atomic hydrogen gas in the early universe, by measuring the absorption of light from distant quasars by the gas. * The 21 centimeter Absorption (electromagnetic radiation), absorption line of neutral atomic hydrogen also provides a sensitive test of cosmology. * Weak lensing, the distortion of a distant image by gravitational lensing due to dark matter. These will help cosmologists settle the question of when and how structure formed in the universe.


Dark matter

Evidence from Big Bang nucleosynthesis, the
cosmic microwave background The cosmic microwave background (CMB, CMBR), in Big Bang The Big Bang Scientific theory, theory is the prevailing cosmological model explaining the existence of the observable universe from the Planck units#Cosmology, earliest known perio ...
, structure formation, and galaxy rotation curves suggests that about 23% of the mass of the universe consists of non-baryonic dark matter, whereas only 4% consists of visible, baryonic matter. The gravitational effects of dark matter are well understood, as it behaves like a cold, Radioactive decay, non-radiative fluid that forms galactic halo, haloes around galaxies. Dark matter has never been detected in the laboratory, and the particle physics nature of dark matter remains completely unknown. Without observational constraints, there are a number of candidates, such as a stable supersymmetry, supersymmetric particle, a weakly interacting massive particle, a gravitationally-interacting massive particle, an axion, and a massive compact halo object. Alternatives to the dark matter hypothesis include a modification of gravity at small accelerations (MOND) or an effect from
brane cosmology Brane cosmology refers to several theories in particle physics Particle physics (also known as high energy physics) is a branch of physics Physics (from grc, φυσική (ἐπιστήμη), physikḗ (epistḗmē), knowledge of na ...
.


Dark energy

If the universe is Flatness (cosmology), flat, there must be an additional component making up 73% (in addition to the 23% dark matter and 4% baryons) of the energy density of the universe. This is called dark energy. In order not to interfere with Big Bang nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background, it must not cluster in haloes like baryons and dark matter. There is strong observational evidence for dark energy, as the total energy density of the universe is known through constraints on the flatness of the universe, but the amount of clustering matter is tightly measured, and is much less than this. The case for dark energy was strengthened in 1999, when measurements demonstrated that the expansion of the universe has begun to gradually accelerate. Apart from its density and its clustering properties, nothing is known about dark energy. ''Quantum field theory'' predicts a cosmological constant (CC) much like dark energy, but 120 orders of magnitude larger than that observed. Steven Weinberg and a number of string theorists ''(see string landscape)'' have invoked the 'weak anthropic principle': i.e. the reason that physicists observe a universe with such a small cosmological constant is that no physicists (or any life) could exist in a universe with a larger cosmological constant. Many cosmologists find this an unsatisfying explanation: perhaps because while the weak anthropic principle is self-evident (given that living observers exist, there must be at least one universe with a cosmological constant which allows for life to exist) it does not attempt to explain the context of that universe. For example, the weak anthropic principle alone does not distinguish between: * Only one universe will ever exist and there is some underlying principle that constrains the CC to the value we observe. * Only one universe will ever exist and although there is no underlying principle fixing the CC, we got lucky. * Lots of universes exist (simultaneously or serially) with a range of CC values, and of course ours is one of the life-supporting ones. Other possible explanations for dark energy include quintessence (physics), quintessence or a modification of gravity on the largest scales. The effect on cosmology of the dark energy that these models describe is given by the dark energy's equation of state (cosmology), equation of state, which varies depending upon the theory. The nature of dark energy is one of the most challenging problems in cosmology. A better understanding of dark energy is likely to solve the problem of the ultimate fate of the universe. In the current cosmological epoch, the accelerated expansion due to dark energy is preventing structures larger than
supercluster A supercluster is a large group of smaller galaxy clusters or galaxy groups; it is among the largest known structures of the universe The universe ( la, universus) is all of space and time and their contents, including planets, stars, ...
s from forming. It is not known whether the acceleration will continue indefinitely, perhaps even increasing until a big rip, or whether it will eventually reverse, lead to a big freeze, or follow some other scenario.


Gravitational waves

Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of spacetime that propagate as waves at the speed of light, generated in certain gravitational interactions that propagate outward from their source. Gravitational-wave astronomy is an emerging branch of observational astronomy which aims to use gravitational waves to collect observational data about sources of detectable gravitational waves such as binary star systems composed of white dwarfs, neutron stars, and s; and events such as supernovae, and the formation of the chronology of the universe, early universe shortly after the
Big Bang The Big Bang theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic ...

Big Bang
. In 2016, the LIGO Scientific Collaboration and Virgo interferometer, Virgo Collaboration teams announced that they had made the first observation of gravitational waves, originating from a Binary black hole, pair of Stellar collision, merging black holes using the Advanced LIGO detectors. On 15 June 2016, a GW151226, second detection of gravitational waves from coalescing black holes was announced. Besides LIGO, many other Gravitational-wave observatory, gravitational-wave observatories (detectors) are under construction.


Other areas of inquiry

Cosmologists also study: * Whether primordial black holes were formed in our universe, and what happened to them. * Detection of cosmic rays with energies above the GZK cutoff, and whether it signals a failure of special relativity at high energies. * The
equivalence principle In the theory A theory is a rational Rationality is the quality or state of being rational – that is, being based on or agreeable to reason Reason is the capacity of consciously making sense of things, applying logic Logic (fr ...
, whether or not Einstein's
general theory of relativity General relativity, also known as the general theory of relativity, is the differential geometry, geometric scientific theory, theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1915 and is the current description of gravitation in modern ph ...
is the correct theory of
gravitation Gravity (), or gravitation, is a natural phenomenon Types of natural phenomena include: Weather, fog, thunder, tornadoes; biological processes, decomposition, germination seedlings, three days after germination. Germination is t ...

gravitation
, and if the fundamental laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe.


See also

* Accretion (astrophysics), Accretion *
Hubble's law Hubble's law, also known as the Hubble–Lemaître law, is the observation in physical cosmology Physical cosmology is a branch of cosmology concerned with the study of cosmological models. A cosmological model, or simply cosmology, provides ...
* Illustris project * List of cosmologists * Photon * Physical ontology * Quantum cosmology * String cosmology * Universal Rotation Curve


References


Further reading


Popular

* * * * * * *


Textbooks

* Introductory cosmology and general relativity without the full tensor apparatus, deferred until the last part of the book. * An introductory text, released slightly before the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, WMAP results. * * For undergraduates; mathematically gentle with a strong historical focus. * An introductory astronomy text. * The classic reference for researchers. * Cosmology without general relativity. * An introduction to cosmology with a thorough discussion of inflation (cosmology), inflation. * * Discusses the formation of large-scale structures in detail. * An introduction including more on general relativity and quantum field theory than most. * Strong historical focus. * The classic work on large-scale structure of the Universe, large-scale structure and correlation functions. * * A standard reference for the mathematical formalism. * * Benjamin Gal-Or, "Cosmology, Physics and Philosophy", Springer Verlag, 1981, 1983, 1987, .


External links


From groups


Cambridge Cosmology
from Cambridge University (public home page)

– from the NASA WMAP group
Center for Cosmological Physics
University of Chicago, Chicago.
Origins, Nova Online
– Provided by ''Public Broadcasting Service, PBS''.


From individuals

*Gale, George,
Cosmology: Methodological Debates in the 1930s and 1940s
, ''The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy'', Edward N. Zalta (ed.) *Madore, Barry F., "
Level 5
: A Knowledgebase for Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology''". Caltech and Carnegie. Pasadena, California, USA. *Tyler, Pat, and Phil Newman "
Beyond Einstein
'". Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (LHEA) NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. *Edward L. WWright, Ned. "
Cosmology tutorial and FAQ
'". Division of Astronomy & Astrophysics, UCLA. * * {{DEFAULTSORT:Physical Cosmology Physical cosmology, Philosophy of physics Philosophy of time Astronomical sub-disciplines Astrophysics