The study of the large-scale structure, history, and future of the universe. Cosmology is about asking and answering questions about the "big picture" - the extent, origin, and fate of everything we know.

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8answers
2k views

Reversing gravitational decoherence

[Update: Thanks, everyone, for the wonderful replies! I learned something extremely interesting and relevant (namely, the basic way decoherence works in QFT), even though it wasn't what I thought I ...
7
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2answers
2k views

How can something finite become infinite?

How can the universe become infinite in spatial extent if it started as a singularity, wouldn't it take infinite time to expand into an infinite universe?
4
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1answer
784 views

Supermassive black holes with the density of the Universe

This question was inspired by the answer to the question "If the universe were compressed into a super massive black hole, how big would it be" Assume that we have a matter with a uniform density ...
4
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5answers
1k views

What is the extent of the universe?

Is there any realistic, understandable, provable (even in some extent) explanation/model for the extent of the universe? What is its shape? and Why? I mean physical explanations not philosophical ...
2
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1answer
420 views

How is the expansion of space itself explained in LQG?

To explain the expansion of space I have often heard people saying that space is continuously created. This picture is usually applied to cosmological scales but I`m nevertheless curious if some ...
21
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2answers
1k views

The age of the universe

Many times I have read statements like, "the age of the universe is 14 billion years" . For example this wikipedia page Big Bang. Now, my question is, which observers' are these time intervals? ...
7
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2answers
336 views

Will acceleration rate of expansion of space become faster than speed of light?

From watching cosmology lectures, it seems that the space between galaxies is expanding at an accelerating rate, my question is since it is the space that is (acceleratingly expanding), the special ...
14
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3answers
244 views

What is meant when it is said that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic?

It is sometimes said that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic. What is meant by each of these descriptions? Are they mutually exclusive, or does one require the other? And what implications rise ...
5
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2answers
1k views

Why do neutrino oscillations imply nonzero neutrino masses?

Neutrinos can pass from one family to another (that is, change in flavor) in a process known as neutrino oscillation. The oscillation between the different families occurs randomly, and the likelihood ...
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5answers
3k views

What is the evidence for Inflation of the early universe?

The theory of Inflation explains the apparent consistency of the universe by proposing that the early universe grew exponentially for a 1E-36 seconds. Isn't a simpler explanation that the universe is ...
3
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2answers
388 views

How is it possible to come to a conclusion that Universe is a result of the Big Bang while we aren't able to observe the entire Universe?

-I'm not a religious person so this is not a denial. I'm just trying to understand the most fundamental topic about Universe. -I know the Big Bang cosmological model is not a law but it's a theory. ...
3
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5answers
359 views

Space Expansion vs. Relative Motion

Inspired by a recent dialogue from another question: Given 2 objects moving at some velocity $v$ relative to one another, is it possible to determine whether they are moving or whether the space ...
2
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2answers
198 views

What is the curvature of the universe?

What is currently the most plausible model of the universe regarding curvature, positive, negative or flat? (I'm sorry if the answer is already out there, but I just can't seem to find it...)
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2answers
2k views

Why can we see the cosmic microwave background (CMB)?

I understand that we can never see much farther than the farthest galaxies we have observed. This is because, before the first galaxies formed, the universe was opaque--it was a soup of subatomic ...
9
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2answers
195 views

How fast is the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) changing?

I know that the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR) is the leftover radiation from the "surface of last scattering". However, at every instant the surface is changing (at the rate of flow ...
9
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3answers
97 views

Seeing cosmic activity now, really means it happens millions/billions of years ago?

A Recent report about a cosmic burst 3.8 billion light years away. It is written as though it is happening now. However, my question is, if the event is 3.8 billion light years away, doesn't that mean ...
7
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1answer
703 views

On Flatness problem, Inflation etc

I have a couple of naive questions from the topic of the title. We know \begin{eqnarray} \Omega-1=\frac{k}{a^2H^2}-\frac{\Lambda}{3H^2} \end{eqnarray} Now I read that from the standard big bang ...
4
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3answers
456 views

References for ADM formalism and cosmological perturbation theory [closed]

What would you consider the best online resources for learning the 3+1 ADM formalism and gauge invariant perturbation theory in cosmology? (Assuming intermediate level GR and QFT familiarity)
3
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1answer
121 views

Time slowing down vs. universe expanding

Einstein said that it is impossible to distinguish between the effect of gravity and acceleration (so if you stand in an accelerating elevator in space it would not feel any different than if you were ...
3
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2answers
303 views

Why does inflation (the inflaton field) push Omega down closer to zero (flatten the universe)?

I know that in our particular case the inflaton field expanded the volume of the universe while simultaneously maintaining a mass-energy density close to the critical density all the while, thus the ...
1
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1answer
175 views

Equation for Hubble Value as a function of time

I am trying to write the equation for the situation where the Hubble parameter $H$ would be changing over time. In other words, it would represent an accelerated expansion of the Universe. That is, ...
71
votes
5answers
5k views

What was the major discovery on gravitational waves made March 17th, 2014, in the BICEP2 experiment?

The Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics held a press conference today to announce a major discovery relating to gravitational waves. What was their announcement, and what are the implications? ...
19
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7answers
2k views

Are we inside a black hole?

I was surprised to only recently notice that An object of any density can be large enough to fall within its own Schwarzschild radius. Of course! It turns out that supermassive black holes at ...
27
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3answers
970 views

The Pioneer anomaly finally explained?

Pioneer 10 & 11 are robotic space probes launched by the NASA in the early 1970's. After leaving our solar system, an unusual deceleration of both spacecrafts has been measured to be approximately ...
12
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4answers
7k views

The meaning of imaginary time

What is imaginary (or complex) time? I was reading about Hawking's wave function of the universe and this topic came up. If imaginary mass and similar imaginary quantities do not make sense in ...
12
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6answers
1k views

What is the easiest way to stop a star?

On long enough cosmological time scales, hydrogen and helium nucleii will become scarce in the Universe. It seems to me that any advanced civilisations that might exist in that epoch would have the ...
10
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6answers
2k views

How many bits are needed to simulate the universe?

This is not the same as: How many bytes can the observable universe store? The Bekenstein bound tells us how many bits of data can be stored in a space. Using this value, we can determine the ...
9
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3answers
395 views

Does the dimensionality of phase space go up as the universe expands?

Ever since Hubble, it is well known that the universe is expanding from a Big Bang. The size of the universe had gone up by many many orders of magnitude as space expanded. If the dimensionality of ...
2
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1answer
473 views

Dirac Equation in General Relativity

Dirac equation for the massless fermions in curved spase time is $γ^ae^μ_aD_μΨ=0$, where $e^μ_a$ are the tetrads. I have to show that Dirac spinors obey the following equation: ...
16
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5answers
557 views

What experiments, other than Hubble Expansion, support the Dark Energy theory?

Dark energy is introduced as a constant inside Einstein's equations. Its primary purpose, from what I understand, is to make Einstein's equations compatible with the accelerating expansion of the ...
10
votes
2answers
624 views

Can the Big Rip really rip apart an atomic nucleus?

Some scenarios describing the fate of the matter vs dark energy tug of war on the universe involve the acceleration of the universe increasing to the point that it ends up ripping apart even atoms. ...
6
votes
6answers
867 views

Are many-worlds and the multiverse really the same thing?

Are many-worlds and the multiverse really the same thing? Not too long ago, Susskind and Bousso uploaded the article "The Multiverse Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics" with the thesis that the ...
7
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2answers
1k views

How many bytes can the observable universe store?

Is the number of states in the Universe countable? What framework could be used to answer the question in the title?
4
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1answer
454 views

What are the theoretical explanations behind the “no-boundary condition” in cosmology?

In his book "The Grand Design" on page 167-173 Stephen Hawking explains how one can get rid of the so called "time zero issue", meaning by this the very special initial state needed for inflation to ...
2
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2answers
240 views

Dark age of universe when all fusion process ceases?

Some say we live in the golden age of the universe because there exits countless number of stars that shines in the dark universe. As the supply of gas for star formation is steadily being exhausted, ...
20
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4answers
2k views

Is space “real”, or is it some sort of accepted postulate?

sorry for this very naive (layman) question. What is space? It seems to be every where in the equations of physics (as some sort of postulate or hidden hypothesis). We also have a direct experience ...
7
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3answers
582 views

Dark Energy / Accelerating universe: naive question

Folks, I have a naive question regarding the subject of dark energy and an accelerating universe: From what I understand/read, it seems that the further we look out into deep space, the faster the ...
7
votes
1answer
308 views

Was the universe a black hole at the beginning?

Big bang cosmology, as far as I understand it, says that the universe was super hot and super dense and super small. It looks like that all the current matter, seen and unseen, were compressed to ...
5
votes
5answers
513 views

How is distance measured to far away stars and galaxies?

What I need is an accurate description of the methods used to determine the distance to Andromeda. The Parallax method is for nearby objects as I presume. The red shift method applies, but how do you ...
5
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2answers
853 views

How is dark energy consistent with conservation of mass and energy?

I initially thought that dark energy must in some way violate conservation of mass and energy since the component of the energy density of space that comes from dark energy is constant, and space is ...
4
votes
2answers
547 views

Big bang and time

I heard Carl Sagan talking about the Universe 15 Billion years ago, and the Big Bang. He made the statement that it was the biggest explosion of all time (at first I thought this a subtle pun). This ...
3
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1answer
196 views

Fulvio Melia's linear Universe

I would be interested in what people think of Fulvio Melia's argument for a linearly expanding Universe. I realize that the experimental evidence seems to be pointing to an accelerating Universe ...
3
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0answers
94 views

At what expansion rate (H) would virtual particles be ripped apart into real particles, and what might be the density (temperature) of such an event?

Is it even possible for a virtual particle-antiparticle pair to be torn apart by cosmological expansion? Virtual particle-antiparticle pairs are ripped apart near black hole event horizons, creating ...
3
votes
3answers
210 views

What does Brian Greene mean when he claims we wont be able to observe light from distant stars due to the universe's expansion?

Brian Greene in this TED talk about possible multiverse, claims tomwards the end (At around 18:00 mark) this statement. 'Because the expansion is speeding up, in the very far future, those galaxies ...
3
votes
3answers
601 views

Do singularities have a “real” as opposed to mathematical or idealized existence?

I was thinking of, for example a Schwarzchild metric at r=0, i.e. the gravitational singularity, a point of infinite density. I realise that there are different types of singularities--timelike, ...
3
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2answers
467 views

Is the observable universe enclosed by an infinitely dense shell?

In modern cosmology, it is commonly stated to the public that as we look deeper and deeper into space, we are seeing further into the past. CMB is the relic of the big bang after photon decoupling ...
2
votes
2answers
103 views

Time-like Killing vector in FRW metric?

The spatially flat FRW metric in cartesian co-ordinates is given by: $$ds^2 = -dt^2 + a^2(t)(dx^2 + dy^2 + dz^2)$$ As I understand it there are Killing vectors in the $x$, $y$, $z$ directions implying ...
1
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1answer
808 views

Is it possible that the Big Bang was caused by virtual particle creation?

As far as I understand, it is understood that throughout the universe there exists, what is known as, a quantum field from which, due to its fluctuations, temporary (pairs of) virtual particles ...
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3answers
516 views

Mechanism for the gravitational field generated by photons

This question follows from a schooling I received in this thread. I figured that photons do not interact with gravity, except when they've spontaneously converted into a particle-antiparticle pair. ...
5
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2answers
496 views

Baryon asymmetry

Baryon asymmetry refers to the observation that apparently there is matter in the Universe but not much antimatter. We don't see galaxies made of antimatter or observe gamma rays that would be ...