Skip to comments.Universe Could be 250 Times Bigger Than What is Observable
Posted on 02/10/2011 1:21:07 AM PST by LibWhacker
Our Universe is an enormous place; thats no secret. What is up for discussion, however, is just how enormous it is. And new research suggests its a whopper over 250 times the size of our observable universe.
Currently, cosmologists believe the Universe takes one of three possible shapes:
But what if the Universe turns out to be closed, and thus has a finite size after all? Cosmologists often refer to the Hubble volume a volume of space that is similar to our visible Universe. Light from any object outside of the Hubble volume will never reach us because the space between us and it is expanding too quickly. According to the teams analysis, a closed universe would encompass at least 251 Hubble volumes.
Thats quite a bit larger than you might think. Primordial light from just after the birth of the Universe started traveling across the cosmos about 13.75 billion years ago. Since special relativity states that nothing can move faster than a photon, many people misinterpret this to mean that the observable Universe must be 13.75 billion light years across. In fact, it is much larger. Not only has space been expanding since the big bang, but the rate of expansion has been steadily increasing due to the influence of dark energy. Since special relativity doesnt factor in the expansion of space itself, cosmologists estimate that the oldest photons have travelled a distance of 45 billion light years since the big bang. That means that our observable Universe is on the order of 90 billion light years wide.
To top it all off, it turns out that the teams size limit of 251 Hubble volumes is a conservative estimate, based on a geometric model that includes inflation. If astronomers were to instead base the size of the Universe solely on the age and distribution of the objects they observe today, they would find that a closed universe encompasses at least 398 Hubble volumes. Thats nearly 400 times the size of everything we can ever hope to see in the Universe!
Given the reality of our current capabilities for observation, to us even a finite universe appears to go on forever.
Well, this will negatively affect real estate prices.
That’s just great. I’m already upside down.
On the other hand, how could there be an infinite universe?
Either way, I get dizzy just thinking about it.
Age of universe = 13.75 years
Photons have traveled = 45 billion light years
Speed = Warp 3?
What this means is that there are physical limits to what we can know. Will the insight provided by this article humble our central economic planners? No chance.
It’s because the universe expanded (faster than c) and those photons got a free ride.
Nah, 249 times, tops.
Not counting the crawl space.
Location, location, location. A nice little ocean front property on a planet with oxygen, water and moderate tempratures, near, but not too near, a yellow star is going to be worth a lot more than undeveloped space trapped in a time warp near a black hole in some God foresaken corner of a remote galaxy cluster. Especially if the proptery has access to a reliable airport and a stable government.
Currently, cosmologists believe the Universe takes one of three possible shapes:
* It is flat, like a Euclidean plane, and spatially infinite.
* It is open, or curved like a saddle, and spatially infinite.
* It is closed, or curved like a sphere, and spatially finite.
Correct answer is all three - it just depends on one’s state of mind and which direction one heads out in.
At least we have universal wrench sets that will work everywhere.
This topic is worth thinking about 30 seconds, otherwise you go to brainlock.
No wonder it’s taking me longer to drive to work each morning.
What about Michelle’s rear end?
Okay... then what would this closed, finite-sized universe be floating in? A petri dish sitting under somebody's microscope?
My vote is that it is spherical with infinite space in all directions.
The Restaurant at the End of the Universe?
Well, it is early for me, but for some reason, the Nesting Doll notion popped into my snow blown and frozen mind: one universe inside another universe, inside another universe, etc. ...
None of these are correct.
The Universe is a Mobius strip.
Universe Could be 250 Times Bigger Than What is Observable
To “expand” off that slogan of The Discovery Channel slogan:
“The UNIVERSE is just awesome”
Especially as we learn more and more about it.
How did a non-spherical shape emerge from the big bang?
Orion's B...Be....Belt. ;)
"It's really, really big."
That was my question as well. Explosions typically go out in all directions. Unless it was a shaped charge.
Whenever life gets you down, Mrs.Brown
And things seem hard or tough
And people are stupid, obnoxious or daft
And you feel that you've had quite enough
Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine hundred miles an hour
That's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned
A sun that is the source of all our power
The sun and you and me and all the stars that we can see
Are moving at a million miles a day
In an outer spiral arm, at forty thousand miles an hour
Of the galaxy we call the 'milky way'
Our galaxy itself contains a hundred billion stars
It's a hundred thousand light years side to side
It bulges in the middle, sixteen thousand light years thick
But out by us, it's just three thousand light years wide
We're thirty thousand light years from galactic central point
We go 'round every two hundred million years
And our galaxy is only one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe
The universe itself keeps on expanding and expanding
In all of the directions it can whizz
As fast as it can go, the speed of light, you know
Twelve million miles a minute and that's the fastest speed there is
So remember, when you're feeling very small and insecure
How amazingly unlikely is your birth
And pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space
'Cause there's bugger all down here on Earth.
Garde la Foi, mes amis! Nous nous sommes les sauveurs de la République! Maintenant et Toujours!
(Keep the Faith, my friends! We are the saviors of the Republic! Now and Forever!)
LonePalm, le Républicain du verre cassé (The Broken Glass Republican)
[...over 250 times the size of our observable universe.]
Dammit, just when I figured out the entire universe, they come out with this.
Yakko’s Universe - From Animaniacs
Yakko: Everybody lives on a street in a city
Or a village or a town for what it’s worth.
And they’re all inside a country which is part of a continent
That sits upon a planet known as Earth.
And the Earth is a ball full of oceans and some mountains
Which is out there spinning silently in space.
And living on that Earth are the plants and the animals
And also the entire human race.
It’s a great big universe
And we’re all really puny
We’re just tiny little specks
About the size of Mickey Rooney.
It’s big and black and inky
And we are small and dinky
It’s a big universe and we’re not.
And we’re part of a vast interplanetary system
Stretching seven hundred billion miles long.
With nine planets and a sun; we think the Earth’s the only one
That has life on it, although we could be wrong.
Across the interstellar voids are a billion asteroids
Including meteors and Halley’s Comet too.
And there’s over fifty moons floating out there like balloons
In a panoramic trillion-mile view.
And still it’s all a speck amid a hundred billion stars
In a galaxy we call the Milky Way.
It’s sixty thousand trillion miles from one end to the other
And still that’s just a fraction of the way.
‘Cause there’s a hundred billion galaxies that stretch across the sky
Filled with constellations, planets, moons and stars.
And still the universe extends to a place that never ends
Which is maybe just inside a little jar!
248.6. I measure it yesterday.
How can the universe expand faster than c? Isn’t it the barrier that can’t be broken? I hear the trendy physicists on History Channel theorize that the universe expanded at faster than c - in the moments after The Big Bang. Yet, they don’t even give passing notice to Einstein’s Theory of Relativity.
If one carries this through to its logical conclusion, what we are seeing is 45 billion years old FROM OUR PROSPECTIVE, yet it is only 15 billion years old, FROM ITS PROSPECTIVE. Something ain’t right.
Now... How do we go out there and see what's there without having to discover physical immortality first?
(Thanks for the ping houeto)
God provided a bit of exercise for our brains.
And no, I don’t remember where we parked, so we’re stuck here for now.
But that is exactly the result that follows from Einstein's theories. The fast moving, and highly accelerated (e.g., under strong gravity) objects "age" at a different (slower) rate when observed by objects at rest. See "The Twin Paradox."
It really strains the brain, trying to fathom time as not immutable.
The idea is that the volume is finite, yet unbounded. There is no way to picture this. But, we can picture a finite two dimensional object, that is unbounded.
If the area of the earth is finite, then what happens when you get to the edge?
Nothing with mass can move through space faster than c. But that tells us nothing about how fast space itself can expand or inflate. Perhaps we should say it tells us nothing about how fast space itself can be created? One physicist I heard said that we shouldn't think of the Big Bang as a one-off event that happened 13.7 billion years ago... It's STILL happening.
You hold on for dear life.
Seriously though... stepping beyond Earth, you find yourself still within our solar system. When you reach the edge of the solar system, you find yourself still floating within the Milky Way Galaxy. Pushing beyond the bounds of our galaxy we find ourselves still contained within the Universe, but we continue to push ourselves further and further. Is that it? Does it just end there? Or is the Universe part of a more grand system? Does it keep going or would you eventually break on through... say, to the other side? (apologies to Jim Morrison)
The relative order of things would suggest that the Universe is limited such as Earth, the solar system, and the galaxy but that we only have yet to reach the limits of the "universe". And if we did ever reach it and passed beyond, what would you call it? Heaven? ;-) Or is it just a tiny organism contained within a petri dish in some heavenly laboratory?
And my apologies to the more studied in this field for my relative coarse awareness, I appreciate your knowledge and I really am curious. ;-)
So true. That's why when Betelgeuse goes supernova, it'll be no great loss. That neck of the galactic woods already looks like Detroit - or Gary, Indiana.
I always think of the Universe more as a Multiverse ... just one of many we just don’t know how to see the others
(Pretty sure the solution requires tinfoil and duct tape though)
But in each of those, you are working in the framework of being able to "step outside of a smaller part of a larger whole," and see a finite volume from the vantage point of a remote observer. The most common conception is that [empty] space is unlimited, infinite; and if the universe is finite, it occupies only part of infinite space, and in concept it's possible to "step outside" the universe and look back at it - similar to going into outer space and looking back at earth.
My remark sets up a finite mass, finite volume universe that violates the common conception. The volume of the universe, and the volume of space itself are finite, not infinite. But the finite volume doesn't have an "edge," beyond which is emptiness. It is very counter-intuitive to find empty space as being limitable. It is impossible to make a 3-D scale model of this [finite volume of space, without a boundary], like we can make 3-D scale models of the earth, or solar system, or even a galaxy.
Not to say that a finite volume universe is fixed at some value. If the universe is expanding, then the volume/amount of space is expanding [like the area of the earth would increase if the earth's radius increased]. But the universe isn't expanding "into an unlimited nothingness." It is expanding the amount of empty space that can be occupied by matter or energy.
What’s behind the door, under that carpet and is the grass really greener on the other side?
If it truly is "unobservable", how can anyone make the above observation?
The density of the universe also determines its geometry. If the density of the universe exceeds the critical density, then the geometry of space is closed and positively curved like the surface of a sphere. This implies that initially parallel photon paths converge slowly, eventually cross, and return back to their starting point (if the universe lasts long enough). If the density of the universe is less than the critical density, then the geometry of space is open, negatively curved like the surface of a saddle. If the density of the universe exactly equals the critical density, then the geometry of the universe is flat like a sheet of paper. Thus, there is a direct link between the geometry of the universe and its fate.
The simplest version of the inflationary theory, an extension of the Big Bang theory, predicts that the density of the universe is very close to the critical density, and that the geometry of the universe is flat, like a sheet of paper. That is the result confirmed by the WMAP science.
This question comes up regularly, but it's based upon a misconception that, unfortunately, physicists do more to perpetuate than to correct. Let me see whether I can set you straight.
The problem is that the expanding universe is typically visualized as something like a stretching rubber sheet, or a raisin-laden plum pudding expanding as it bakes. The problem is that these are physical objects that exist in--and take up--some region of space. Over time, these growing objects take up more space, leaving less space for other objects, and either displacing those objects or reaching the limits of the available space. Once the plum pudding fills the oven, there's a problem.
The expansion of the universe isn't like that. The universe is not an object; it doesn't "take up space". It is space. As it grows, it doesn't mean that there is less space for objects; it means there is more space for objects. Nothing needs to be displaced to admit its expansion.
I can tell by the look on your face--as I imagine it--that you aren't satisfied. So here's another way to think about the problem. Don't say that the universe is expanding. Insist that it remains fixed. Say instead that the things in the universe--galaxies, rulers, paper plates, Brooklyn (sorry, Mrs. Allen), atoms, people, Dukakis/Bentsen campaign buttons--are all shrinking. It's mathematically equivalent, right? But it doesn't require you to postulate that anything is "outside".
So why don't you have the same conceptual problem that you had when you viewed it the other (equivalent) way? Think about it.--Physicist
Reminds me of an old episode of Dragnet called “The LSD Story” (I just looked it up) which opens up with a hippie in the park with his head stuck in a hole in the ground and Friday and Gannon tap him on the shoulder and he looks up and says, “wow, man, I can see to the center of the earth!”
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