1 Chapter 26: Cosmology Cosmology means the study of the structure and evolution of the entire universe as a whole. First of all, we need to know whether the universe has changed with time, or if it has somehow always been similar to the way it is now, littered with stars, galaxies, and larger structures. We will see immediately that this is not the case: The universe has most definitely evolved with time. So our next task will be to understand what it was like in the distant past. By the end of chapters 26 and 27, you should be able to roughly understand the diagram on the left, and at least have an idea what the evolution of the universe diagram on the right is trying to illustrate.
2 Units of Chapter The Universe on the Largest Scales 26.2 The Expanding Universe 26.3 The Fate of the Cosmos 26.4 The Geometry of Space Curved Space 26.5 Will the Universe Expand Forever? Einstein and the Cosmological Constant 26.6 Dark Energy and Cosmology 26.7 Cosmic Microwave Background
3 26.1 The Universe on the Largest Scales This galaxy map shows the largest structure known in the Universe, the Sloan Great Wall. No structure larger than 300 Mpc is seen. (We ll see why this is significant.)
4 26.1 The Universe on the Largest Scales This pencil-beam survey is another way to measure large-scale structure. Restricting the observations to a narrow range of directions allows you to see fainter galaxies in that direction. Again, there is structure at about Mpc, but nothing larger. But we can observe the universe out to at least 5000 Mpc, so we conclude that there are no structures with sizes comparable to that of the observable universe. This is a basic assumption of all theories of cosmology, a simplification that is part of what is called the cosmological principle.
5 26.1 The Universe on the Largest Scales Therefore, the Universe is homogenous (any 300-Mpc-square block appears much like any other) on scales greater than about 300 Mpc. Homogeneous doesn t mean smooth or featureless, but that local regions look about the same anywhere in the universe. The Universe also appears to be isotropic the same in all directions. If this weren t true, and there was some preferred direction in the universe, we would need a much stranger model for how spacetime evolves! The assumptions of isotropy and homogeneity together are called the cosmological principle. It is a simplifying assumption that allows theorists to neglect potential aspects of the universe that would introduce extreme uncertainty, for example, if the universe is different in different places, why and where? If different in different directions, what could be special about one direction over others? Instead, the cosmological principle allows us to treat the universe as one object that evolves as a whole. That object is actually spacetime.
6 26.2 The Expanding Universe Olbers s Paradox: If the universe is homogeneous, isotropic, infinite, and unchanging, the entire sky should be as bright as the surface of the Sun. This is often worded: Why is the night sky dark? If infinite, we should see a stellar surface in any and every direction. We ll discuss a useful analogy concerning a forest in class; also see Fig Since we see that the night sky is dark, and We think we have evidence that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic, then either the universe is finite in extent, or evolves with time, or both. We ll discuss two lines of evidence: the appearance of very distant, and hence younger, galaxies, and the Hubble relation, which we have encountered before, but here will take us into the big bang model.
7 Discovery 26-1: A Stunning View of Deep Space This image, the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, is the result of a total exposure time of 1 million seconds, allowing very faint objects to be seen. It contains about 10,000 galaxies, and provided one of the deepest views of the universe ever obtained. This was the first time that we really were seeing back in time a significant fraction of the age of the universe. The galaxies that are the most distant in this image appear significantly different in Form from the types of galaxies in the nearby universe: Smaller, raggedy, bluer, This shows that the universe has evolved with time --otherwise galaxies would look similar no matter how far back in time (I.e. how far away) you could see them. But there is another, much more revealing observation showing that the universe has evolved, in a way that is more significant than just a change in time: The Hubble relation.
8 26.2 The Expanding Universe Returning to the question: Why is it dark at night? We think the universe is homogeneous and isotropic it must not be infinite or not be unchanging, or both. We already saw from distant galaxies strong evidence for the latter. But long before we had telescopes large enough to perform observations of distant galaxies, the answer was at hand: We have already found that galaxies are moving faster away from us the farther away they are: recession velocity = H 0 distance Since it is difficult to interpret this Hubble relation as anything other than an expanding universe, it provides additional evidence that the universe is different today, compared to its state some time in the past.
9 26.2 The Expanding Universe If galaxies are moving apart today, they must have been closer together in the past. So, how long ago were they all in the same place? (Infinite density, the big bang ) time = distance / velocity = distance / (H 0 x distance) = 1/H 0 Using H 0 = 70 km/s/mpc, we find that time is about 14 billion years. History of the universe in a space-time diagram. Present is at top, big bang ( singularity ) is at bottom. Correct interpretation of the galaxy redshifts: It s not that galaxies are moving away from each other, but that space is expanding. This stretches the wavelengths of all the light emitted. Light from distant objects was emitted long ago, and so has been stretched (redshifted) more. (See Fig. 26.6)
10 26.2 The Expanding Universe Note that Hubble s law is the same no matter who is making the measurements.
11 26.2 The Expanding Universe If this expansion is extrapolated backwards in time, all galaxies are seen to originate from a single point in an event called the Big Bang. So, where was the Big Bang? It was everywhere. No matter where in the Universe we are, we will measure the same relation between recessional velocity and distance with the same Hubble constant.
12 26.2 The Expanding Universe This can be demonstrated in two dimensions. Imagine a balloon with coins stuck to it. As we blow up the balloon, the coins all move farther and farther apart. There is, on the surface of the balloon, no center of expansion (see explanation in textbook if you don t understand this). The same analogy can be used to explain the cosmological redshift:
13 26.2 The Expanding Universe These concepts are hard to comprehend, and not at all intuitive. A full description requires the very high-level mathematics of general relativity. However, there are aspects that can be understood using relatively simple Newtonian physics we just need the full theory to tell us which ones! One question that can be discussed without using general relativity concerns the future of the universe: There are two possibilities for the Universe in the far future: 1. It could keep expanding forever. 2. It could collapse. Assuming that the only relevant force is gravity, which way the Universe goes depends on its density, the average amount of mass per unit volume. Greater density, more gravity, expansion of universe becomes more difficult.
14 26.3 The Fate of the Cosmos If the density is low, the universe will expand forever. If it is high, the universe will ultimately collapse.
15 26.3 The Fate of the Cosmos There is a critical density between collapse and expansion. At this density the universe still expands forever, but the expansion speed goes asymptotically to zero as time goes on. Given the present value of the Hubble constant, that critical density is: kg/m 3 This is about five hydrogen atoms per cubic meter.
16 26.3 The Fate of the Cosmos If space is homogenous, there are three possibilities for its overall structure: 1. Closed this is the geometry that leads to ultimate collapse 2. Flat this corresponds to the critical density 3. Open expands forever
17 26.4 The Geometry of Space These three possibilities can be described by comparing the actual density of the Universe to the critical density. Astronomers refer to the actual density of the Universe as Ω, and to the critical density as Ω 0. Then we can describe the three possibilities as: Ω < Ω 0 Ω = Ω 0 Ω > Ω 0 Open geometry Flat geometry Closed geometry
18 26.5 Will the Universe Expand Forever? The answer to this question lies in the actual density of the Universe. How to estimate this crucial number? Measurements of luminous matter suggest that the actual density is only a few percent of the critical density. The amount of deuterium produced early in the universe is another way to measure the average density, and it also gives a result that the baryonic matter (same as the kind of matter we can see) can only be a few percent of the critical density. But, we know there must be large amounts of dark matter. Could ths change the result from an open to a closed (cyclical) universe?
19 26.5 Will the Universe Expand Forever? The best estimates for the amount of dark matter needed to bind galaxies in clusters, and to explain gravitational lensing, still only bring the observed density up to about 0.3 times the critical density, and it seems very unlikely that there could be enough dark matter to make the density critical. So, until recently, it was believed that the universe is open and will expand forever. Unfortunately, this was inconsistent with the theory of inflation, which solves many important problems, but requires that the density is exactly the critical density. One of the most exciting (to astronomers) results of the past decade was the evidence that there is still another kind of something in the universe, but it is not only dark, but it isn t even matter. We don t know what it is, except that it is an energy, so it is called dark energy.
20 26.5 Will the Universe Expand Forever? Now we turn to the evidence for this mysterious component of the universe, how it was discovered, and why it implies that the actual mass density of the universe is very close to the critical density. Yet the universe will probably expand forever, for reasons to be seen shortly. Not only that, it should expand faster and faster! This is all due to DARK ENERGY. Type I supernovae can be used to measure the recession speeds of distant galaxies. If the expansion of the Universe is decelerating, as it would if gravity were the only force acting, the farthest galaxies had a more rapid recessional speed in the past, and will appear as though they were receding faster than Hubble s law would predict.
21 26.5 Will the Universe Expand Forever? However, when we look at the data, we see that they correspond not to a decelerating universe, but to an accelerating one. This acceleration cannot be explained by current theories of the Universe, although we do know it is not caused by either matter or radiation.
22 26.5 Will the Universe Expand Forever? The repulsive effect of the dark energy increases as the Universe expands. So even though space is flat, and the density is just about the value needed for gravity to balance the universal expansion, the expansion is still accelerating, a total surprise when it was first discovered several years ago.
23 Discovery 26-2: Einstein and the Cosmological Constant The cosmological constant (vacuum energy) was originally introduced by Einstein to prevent general relativity from predicting that a static universe (then thought to be the case) would collapse. When the universe turned out to be expanding, Einstein removed the constant from his theory, calling it the biggest blunder of his career.
24 Discovery 26-2: Einstein and the Cosmological Constant Now, it seems as though something like a cosmological constant may be necessary to explain the accelerating universe theoretical work is still at a very early stage, though!
25 26.6 Dark Energy and Cosmology What else supports the dark energy theory? In the very early life of the Universe, the geometry must be flat. The assumption of a constant expansion rate is incorrect, so the acceleration due to dark energy means that the Universe is (a little) younger than we thought.
26 26.6 Dark Energy and Cosmology This graph now includes the accelerating universe. Given what we now know, the age of the universe works out to be 13.7 billion years.
27 26.6 Dark Energy and Cosmology This is consistent with other observations, particularly of the age of globular clusters, and yields the following timeline: 14 billion years ago: Big Bang? 13 billion years ago: First galaxies form 10 billion years ago: First stars in our galaxy form Next, we discuss a relic from the big bang that will allow us to understand what happened before there were galaxies, filling in the so-far mysterious time just after the big bang, the red arrow above. Most of chapter 27 will be concerned with taking this back to the very earliest moments in the history of the universe.
28 26.7 Cosmic Microwave Background The cosmic microwave background was predicted in the 1950s, when it was realized that at some critical time in the history of universe, ionized elements would recombine into atoms, removing electrons that had previous scattered the light that pervaded the universe. This radiation was discovered fortuitously in 1964, as two researchers from Bell Labs, Penzias and Wilson, tried to get rid of the last bit of noise in their radio antenna. They tried everything they could think of, until someone pointed out the magnitude of what they had found. They had found that the noise came from all directions and at all times, and was always the same. They were detecting photons left over from the Big Bang, but didn t know anything about astrophysics and had no idea such a thing had been predicted. Despite a complete ignorance of the significance of what they had found, they received the Nobel Prize for their discovery, while those who predicted its existence, and others who were busily trying to build a radio telescope that could detect it, were left prizeless
29 26.7 Cosmic Microwave Background These photons were released from interacting with matter ever again when the universe was only about a million years old. Earlier, only one second after the Big Bang, they were very highly energetic gamma rays, as illustrated below The expansion of the universe These curves are labeled by the age of the universe and the dominant wavelength of the background radiation at that time. has redshifted their wavelengths so that now they are in the radio spectrum, with a blackbody curve corresponding to about 3 K (three degrees Kelvin).
30 26.7 Cosmic Microwave Background Since then, the cosmic background spectrum has been measured with great accuracy. The observations almost exactly fit a 3K blackbody, an important test of the bib bang model for the early universe. The solid blue line is a blackbody of temperature 2.725K
31 Summary of Chapter 26 On scales larger than a few hundred megaparsecs, the Universe is homogeneous and isotropic. The Universe began about 14 million years ago, in a Big Bang. Future of the Universe: either expand forever, or collapse? Density between expansion and collapse is critical density.
32 Summary of Chapter 26 (cont.) A high-density universe has a closed geometry; a critical universe is flat; and a low-density universe is open. Luminous mass and dark matter make up at most 30% of the critical density. Acceleration of the universe appears to be speeding up, due to some form of dark energy. The Universe is about 14 billion years old. Cosmic microwave background is photons left over from Big Bang.
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