The Big Bounce: Why our universe might be eternal

When it comes to theories of the universe, the Big Bang theory is almost accepted as a fact. However, it's still uncertain, and some scientists believe that the universe didn't began with a bang, but a bounce.

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  • The Big Bang theory is treated as the de facto way the universe began, but it's had some issues.
  • One issue was that it could not describe how the universe became uniform and homogeneous, which is what we observe today.
  • Physicists tweaked Big Bang theory to accommodate this, but the Big Bounce theory can address these issues without too much tweaking.
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What is the cosmic web?

When you zoom far enough out, our universe has a very unusual structure.

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  • Composed of massive filaments of galaxies separated by giant voids, the cosmic web is the name astronomers give to the structure of our universe.
  • Why does our universe have this peculiar, web-like structure?
  • The answer lies in processes that took place in the first few hundred thousands years after the Big Bang.
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Where do atoms come from? Billions of years of cosmic fireworks.

The periodic table was a lot simpler at the beginning of the universe.

  • Michelle Thaller's "absolute favorite fact in the universe" is that we are made of dead stars.
  • The Big Bang, when it went off, produced basically three elements: hydrogen, helium, and lithium. Every atom more complex had to be formed inside a star. Over time, stars such as the sun produce things like carbon and oxygen.
  • They don't really get much more far off the periodic table than that. If you want to go any farther than the element iron, then you actually need a very violent explosion, a supernova explosion.
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Why the universe's ancient galaxies were extra bright

New research based on observational data from the Spitzer telescope provides clues as to how the universe first emerged from its dark age.

ESA/Hubble & NASA, Acknowledgements: D. Calzetti (UMass) and the LEGUS Team
  • Researchers using the Spitzer telescope were able to analyze some of the most distant and ancient galaxies in the universe.
  • They discovered that these galaxies were far brighter than anticipated, shedding clues into how the universe first emerged from the "dark ages" that lasted until about a billion years after the Big Bang.
  • This research serves as a stepping stone for future work to be conducted with the James Webb Space Telescope, scheduled to be launched in early 2021.
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Watch how this video brilliantly compares planet sizes

What if all planets were the same distance from Earth as the Moon?

Yeti Dynamics
  • A video imagines what it would look like if the planets were all the same distance from Earth as the Moon.
  • The largest planets like Jupiter and Saturn would loom large in the sky.
  • Mercury is the smallest planet in the solar system.
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