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Cosmology: The Birth


Chapter 18 Cosmology: The Birth and Life of the Cosmos Introduction Cosmology is the study of the structure and evolution of the Universe on its grandest scales. – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Cosmology: The Birth

Chapter 18
  • Cosmology The Birth
  • and Life of the Cosmos

  • Cosmology is the study of the structure and
    evolution of the Universe on its grandest scales.
  • Some of the major issues studied by cosmologists
    include the Universes birth, age, size,
    geometry, and ultimate fate.
  • We are also interested in the birth and evolution
    of galaxies, topics already discussed in Chapter
  • As in the rest of astronomy, we are trying to
    discover the fundamental laws of physics, and use
    them to understand how the Universe works.
  • We do not claim to determine the purpose of the
    Universe or why humans, in particular, exist
    these questions are more in the domain of
    theology, philosophy, and metaphysics.
  • However, in the end we will see that some of our
    conclusions, which are solidly based on the
    methods of science, nonetheless seem to be
    untestable with our present knowledge.

18.1 Olberss Paradox
  • We begin our exploration of cosmology by
    considering a deceptively simple question Why
    is the sky dark at night?
  • The answer seems so obvious (The sky is dark
    because the Sun is down, dummy!) that the
    question may be considered absurd.
  • Actually, though, it is very profound.
  • If the Universe is static (that is, neither
    expanding nor contracting), and infinite in size
    and age, with stars spread throughout it, every
    line of sight should intersect a shining star
    (see figure)just as in a hypothetical infinite
    forest, every line of sight eventually intersects
    a tree.
  • So, the sky should be bright everywhere, even at
  • But it clearly isnt, thereby making a paradoxa
    conflict of a reasonable deduction with our
    common experience.

18.1 Olberss Paradox
  • One might argue that distant stars appear dim
    according to the inverse-square law of light, so
    they wont contribute much to the brightness of
    the night sky.
  • But the apparent size of a star also decreases
    with increasing distance. (This can be difficult
    to comprehend Stars are so far away that they
    are usually approximated as points, or as the
    blur circle produced by turbulence in Earths
    atmosphere, but intrinsically they really do have
    a nonzero angular area.)
  • So, a stars brightness per unit area remains the
    same regardless of distance (see figure).
  • If there were indeed an infinite number of stars,
    and if we could see all of them, then every point
    on the sky would be covered with a star, making
    the entire sky blazingly bright!

18.1 Olberss Paradox
  • Another way to think about Olberss paradox is to
    consider an infinite number of spherical shells
    centered on Earth (see figure).
  • Each shell has the same thickness, but the volume
    occupied by progressively more distant shells
  • Although individual stars in the distant shells
    appear dimmer than in the nearby shells, there
    are more stars in the distant shells (because of
    the growing volume).
  • These two effects exactly cancel each other, so
    each shell contributes the same amount to the
    brightness of the sky.
  • With an infinite number of shells, the sky should
    be infinitely brightor at least as bright as the
    surface of a star (since distant stars will tend
    to be blocked by closer stars along the same line
    of sight).

18.1 Olberss Paradox
  • This dark-sky paradox has been debated for
    hundreds of years.
  • It is known as Olberss paradox, though the
    19th-century astronomer Wilhelm Olbers wasnt the
    first to realize the problem.
  • Kepler and others considered it, but not until
    the 20th century was it solved.
  • Actually, there are several conceivable
    resolutions of Olberss paradox, each of which
    has profound implications.
  • For example, the Universe might have finite size.
  • It is as though the whole Universe were a forest,
    but the forest has an edgeand if there are
    sufficiently few trees, one can see to the edge
    along some lines of sight.
  • Or, the Universe might have infinite size, but
    with few or no stars far away.
  • This is like a forest that stops at some point,
    or thins out quickly, with an open field (the
    rest of the Universe) beyond it.

18.1 Olberss Paradox
  • Another possible solution is that the Universe
    has a finite age, so that light from most of the
    stars has not yet had time to reach us.
  • If the forest suddenly came into existence, an
    observer would initially see only the most nearby
    trees (due to the finite speed of light), and
    there would be gaps between them along some lines
    of sight.
  • There are other possibilities as well.
  • Most of them are easily ruled out by observations
    or violate the Copernican principle (that we are
    at a typical, non-special place in the Universe),
    and some are fundamentally similar to the three
    main suggestions discussed above.
  • One idea is that dust blocks the light of distant
    stars, but this doesnt work because, if the
    Universe were infinitely old, the dust would have
    time to heat up and either glow brightly or be

18.1 Olberss Paradox
  • It turns out that the primary true solution to
    Olberss paradox is that the Universe has a
    finite age, about 14 billion years.
  • There has been far too little time for the light
    from enough stars to reach us to make the sky
  • Effectively, we see gaps in the sky where there
    are no stars, because light from the distant
    stars still hasnt been detected.
  • For example, consider the static (non-expanding)
    universe in in the figure.
  • If stars were suddenly created as shown, then in
    the first year the observer would see only those
    stars within 1 light-year of him or her, because
    the light from more distant stars would still be
    on its way.
  • After 2 years, the observer would see more
    starsall those within 2 light-years the gaps
    between stars would be smaller, and the sky would
    be brighter.
  • After 10 years, the observer would see all stars
    within 10 light-years, so the sky would be even
  • But it would be a long time before enough very
    distant stars became visible and filled the gaps.

18.1 Olberss Paradox
  • Our own Universe, of course, is not so simpleit
    is expanding.
  • To some degree, the expansion of the Universe
    also helps solve Olberss paradox As a galaxy
    moves away from us, its light is redshifted from
    visible wavelengths (which we can see) to longer
    wavelengths (which we cant see).
  • Indeed, the energy of each photon actually
    decreases because of the expansion.
  • But the effects of expansion are minor in
    resolving Olberss paradox, compared with the
    finite, relatively short age of the Universe.
  • Regardless of the actual resolution of Olberss
    paradox, the main point is that such a simple
    observation and such a silly-sounding question
    lead to incredibly interesting possible
    conclusions regarding the nature of the Universe.
  • So the next time your friends are in awe of the
    beauty of the stars, point out the profound
    implications of the darkness, too!

18.2 An Expanding Universe
  • To see that the Universe has a finite age, we
    must consider the expansion of the Universe.
  • In Chapter 16, we described how spectra of
    galaxies studied by Edwin Hubble led to this
    amazing concept, one of the pillars of cosmology.

18.2a Hubbles Law
  • Hubble found that in every direction, all but the
    closest galaxies have spectra that are shifted to
    longer wavelengths.
  • Moreover, the measured redshift, z, of a galaxy
    is proportional to its distance from us, d (see
  • If this redshift is produced by motion away from
    us, then we can use the Doppler formula to derive
    the speed of recession, v.

18.2a Hubbles Law
  • The recession speed can be plotted against
    distance for many galaxies in a Hubble diagram
    (see figure), and a straight line nicely
    represents the data.
  • The final result is Hubbles law, v H0d, where
    H0 is the present-day value of Hubbles constant,
    H. (Note that H is constant throughout the
    Universe at a given time, but its value decreases
    with time.)

18.2a Hubbles Law
  • An explosion can give rise to Hubbles law.
  • If we kick a pile of balls, for example, some of
    them are hit directly and given a large speed,
    while others fly off more slowly.
  • After a while, we see that the most distant ones
    are moving fastest, while the ones closest to the
    original pile are moving slowly (see figure).
  • The reason is obvious To have reached a
    particular distance in a given amount of time,
    the distant balls must have been moving quickly,
    while the nearby ones must have been moving
  • Speed is indeed proportional to distance, which
    is the same formula as Hubbles law.

18.2a Hubbles Law
  • Based on Hubbles law, we conclude that the
    Universe is expanding.
  • Like an expanding gas, its density and
    temperature are decreasing with time.
  • Extrapolating the expansion backward in time, we
    can reason that the Universe began at a specific
    instant when all of the material was in a
    singularity at essentially infinite density and
    temperature. (This is not the only possible
    conclusion, but other evidence, to be discussed
    in Chapter 19, strongly supports it.)
  • We call this instant the big bangthe initial
    event that set the Universe in motionthough we
    will see below that it is not like a conventional
  • Big bang is both the technical and popular name
    for the current class of theories that deal with
    the birth and evolution of the Universe.
  • In Chapter 19, we will discuss in more detail the
    reasons astronomers think that the Universe began
    its life in a hot, dense, expanding state.

18.2b Expansion Without a Center
  • Does the observed motion of galaxies away from us
    imply that we are the center of expansion, and
    hence in a very special position?
  • Such a conclusion would be highly
    anti-Copernican Looking at the billions of other
    galaxies, we see no scientifically based reason
    for considering our Galaxy to be special, in
    terms of the expansion of the Universe.
  • Historically, too, we have encountered this
    several times.
  • The Earth is not the only planet, and it isnt
    the center of the Solar System, just as
    Copernicus found.
  • The Sun is not the only star, and it isnt the
    center of the Milky Way Galaxy.
  • The Milky Way Galaxy is not the only galaxy . . .
    and it probably isnt the center of the Universe.

18.2b Expansion Without a Center
  • If our Galaxy were the center of expansion, we
    would expect the number of other galaxies per
    unit volume to decrease with increasing distance,
    as shown by the balls in the figure.
  • In fact, however, galaxies are not observed to
    thin out at large distancesthus providing direct
    evidence that we are not at the unique center.

18.2b Expansion Without a Center
  • A different conclusion that is consistent with
    the data, and also satisfies the Copernican
    principle, is that there is no centeror,
    alternatively, that all places can claim to be
    the center.
  • Consider a loaf of raisin bread about to go into
    the oven.
  • The raisins are spaced at various distances from
    each other.
  • Then, as the uniformly distributed yeast causes
    the dough to expand, the raisins start spreading
    apart from each other (see figure).
  • If we were able to sit on any one of those
    raisins, we would see our neighboring raisins
    move away from us at a certain speed.
  • Note that raisins far away from us recede faster
    than nearby raisins because there is more dough
    between them and us, and all of the dough is
    expanding uniformly.

18.2b Expansion Without a Center
  • For example, suppose that after 1 second, each
    original centimeter of dough occupies 2 cm (see
  • From our raisin, we will see that another raisin
    initially 1 cm away has a distance of 2 cm after
    1 second.
  • It therefore moved with an average speed of 1 cm
  • A different raisin initially 2 cm away has a
    distance of 4 cm after 1 second, and moved with
    an average speed of 2 cm /sec.
  • Yet another raisin initially 3 cm away has a
    distance of 6 cm after 1 second, so its average
    speed was 3 cm /sec.
  • We see that speed is proportional to distance (v
    ? d), as in Hubbles law.

18.2b Expansion Without a Center
  • It is important to realize that it doesnt make
    any difference which raisin we sit on all of the
    other raisins would seem to be receding,
    regardless of which one was chosen. (Of course,
    any real loaf of raisin bread is finite in size,
    while the Universe may have no limit so that we
    would never see an edge.)
  • The fact that all the galaxies are receding from
    us does not put us in a unique spot in the
    Universe there is no center to the Universe.
  • Each observer at each location would observe the
    same effect.
  • A convenient one-dimensional analogue is an
    infinitely long rubber band with balls attached
    to it (see figure).
  • Imagine that we are on one of the balls.
  • As the rubber band is stretched, we would see all
    other balls moving away from us, with a speed of
    recession proportional to distance.
  • But again, it doesnt matter which ball we chose
    as our home.

18.2b Expansion Without a Center
  • Another very useful analogy is an expanding
    spherical balloon (see figure).
  • Suppose we define this hypothetical universe to
    be only the surface of the balloon.
  • It has just two spatial dimensions, not three
    like our real Universe.
  • We can travel forward or backward, left or right,
    or any combination of these directionsbut up
    and down (that is, out of, or into, the
    balloon) are not allowed.
  • All of the laws of physics are constrained to
    operate along these two directions even light
    travels only along the surface of the balloon.

18.2b Expansion Without a Center
  • If we put flat stickers on the balloon, they
    recede from each other as the balloon expands,
    and flat creatures on them would deduce Hubbles
  • A clever observer could also reason that the
    surface is curved By walking in one direction,
    for example, the starting point would eventually
    be reached.
  • With enough data, the observer might even derive
    an equation for the surface of the balloon, but
    it would reveal an unreachable third spatial
  • The observer could conclude that the center of
    expansion is in this extra dimension, which
    exists only mathematically, not physically!
  • It is possible that we live in an analogue of
    such a spherical universe, but with three spatial
    dimensions that are physically accessible, and an
    additional, inaccessible spatial dimension around
    which space mathematically curves.
  • We will discuss this idea in more detail later.

18.2c What Is Actually Expanding?
  • Besides illustrating Hubbles law and the absence
    of a unique center, the above analogies
    accurately reproduce two additional aspects of
    the Universe.
  • First, according to Einsteins general theory of
    relativity, which is used to quantitatively study
    the expansion and geometry of the Universe, it is
    space itself that expands.
  • The dough or the rubber expands, making the
    raisins, balls, and stickers recede from each
  • They do not travel through the dough or rubber.
  • Similarly, in our Universe, galaxies do not
    travel through a preexisting space instead,
    space itself is expanding. (We sometimes say that
    the fabric of spacetime is expanding.)
  • In this way, the expansion of the Universe
    differs from a conventional explosion, which
    propels material through a preexisting space.

18.2c What Is Actually Expanding?
  • Second, note that the raisins, balls, and
    stickers themselves dont expandonly the space
    between them expands. (We intentionally didnt
    draw ink dots on the balloon, because they would
    expand, unlike stickers.)
  • Similarly, galaxies and other gravitationally
    bound objects such as stars and planets do not
    expand The gravitational force is strong enough
    to overcome the tendency of space within them to
  • Nor do people expand, because electrical forces
    (between atoms and molecules) strongly hold us
  • Strictly speaking, even most clusters of galaxies
    are sufficiently well bound to resist the
  • Only the space between the clusters expands, and
    even in these cases the expansion is sometimes
    diminished by the gravitational pull between
    clusters (as in superclusters).

18.2c What Is Actually Expanding?
  • However, electromagnetic waves or photons do
    expand with space they are not tightly bound
  • Thus, for example, blue photons turn into red
    photons (see figure).
  • In fact, this is what actually produces the
    observed redshift of galaxies.
  • Technically, the redshift is not a Doppler
    effect, since nothing is moving through the
    Universe, and the Doppler effect was defined in
    terms of the motion of an object relative to the
    waves it emits.
  • The Doppler formula remains valid at low speeds,
    though, and it is convenient to think about the
    redshift as a Doppler effect, so we will continue
    to do sobut you should be aware of the deeper
    meaning of redshifts.

18.3 The Age of the Universe
  • The discovery that our Universe had a definite
    beginning in time, the big bang, is of
    fundamental importance.
  • The Universe isnt infinitely old.
  • But humans generally have a fascination with the
    ages of things, from the Dead Sea scrolls to
    movie stars.
  • Naturally, then, we would like to know how old
    the Universe itself is!

18.3a Finding Out How Old
  • There are at least two ways in which to determine
    the age of the Universe.
  • First, the Universe must be at least as old as
    the oldest objects within it.
  • Thus, we can set a minimum value to the age of
    the Universe by measuring the ages of
    progressively older objects within it.
  • For example, the Universe must be at least as old
    as youadmittedly, not a very meaningful lower
  • More interestingly, it must be at least 200
    million years old, since there are dinosaur
    fossils of that age.
  • Indeed, it must be at least 4.6 billion years
    old, since Moon rocks and meteorites of that age

18.3a Finding Out How Old
  • The oldest discrete objects whose ages have
    reliably been determined are globular star
    clusters in our Milky Way Galaxy (see figure).
  • The oldest ones are now thought to be 1213
    billion years old, though the exact values are
    still controversial. (Globular clusters used to
    be thought to be about 14 17 billion years old.)
  • Theoretically, the formation of globular clusters
    could have taken place only a few hundred million
    years after the big bang if so, the age of the
    Universe would be about 14 billion years.
  • Since no discrete objects have been found that
    appear to be much older than the oldest globular
    clusters, a reasonable conclusion is that the age
    of the Universe is indeed at least 13 billion
    years, but not much older than 14 billion years.

18.3a Finding Out How Old
  • A different method for finding the age of the
    Universe is to determine the time elapsed since
    its birth, the big bang.
  • At that instant, all the material of which any
    observed galaxies consist was essentially at the
    same location.
  • Thus, by measuring the distance between our Milky
    Way Galaxy and any other galaxy, we can calculate
    how long the two have been separating from each
    other if we know the current recession speed of
    that galaxy.
  • At this stage, we have made the simplifying
    assumption that the recession speed has always
    been constant.
  • So, the relevant expression is distance equals
    speed multiplied by time d vt.
  • For example, if we measure a friends car to be
    approaching us with a speed of 60 miles/hour, and
    the distance from his home to ours is 180 miles,
    we calculate that the journey took 3 hours if the
    speed was always constant and there were no rest
  • In the case of the Universe, the amount of time
    since the big bang, assuming a constant speed for
    any given galaxy, is called the Hubble time.

18.3a Finding Out How Old
  • If, however, the recession speed was faster in
    the past, then the true age is less than the
    Hubble time.
  • Not as much time had to elapse for a galaxy to
    reach a given distance from us, compared to the
    time needed with a constant recession speed.
  • Using the previous example, if our friend started
    his journey with a speed of 90 miles/hour, and
    gradually slowed down to 60 miles/hour by the end
    of the trip, then the average speed was clearly
    higher than 60 miles/hour, and the trip took
    fewer than 3 hours. (This is why people often
    break the posted speed limit!)
  • Astronomers have generally expected such a
    decrease in speed because all galaxies are
    gravitationally pulling on all others, thereby
    presumably slowing down the expansion rate.
  • In fact, many cosmologists have believed that the
    deceleration in the expansion rate is such that
    it gives a true age of exactly two-thirds of the
    Hubble time.
  • This is, in part, a theoretical bias it rests on
    an especially pleasing cosmological model.
  • Later in this chapter we will see how attempts
    have been made to actually measure the expected

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • To determine the Hubble time, we must measure
    Hubbles constant, H0.
  • This can be done if we know the distance (d) and
    recession speed (v) of another galaxy, since
    rearrangement of Hubbles law tells us that H0
  • Many galaxies at different distances should be
    used, so that an average can be taken.
  • The recession speed is easy to measure from a
    spectrum of the galaxy and the Doppler formula.
  • We cant use galaxies within our own Local Group
    (like the Andromeda galaxy, M31), however, since
    they are bound to the group by gravity and are
    not expanding away.

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • Galaxy distances are notoriously hard to
    determine, and this leads to large uncertainties
    in the derived value of Hubbles constant.
  • We cant use triangulation because galaxies are
    much too far away.
  • In principle, the distance of a galaxy can be
    determined by measuring the apparent angular size
    of an object (such as a nebula) within it, and
    comparing it with an assumed physical size.
  • But this method generally gives only a crude
    estimate of distance, because the physical sizes
    of different objects in a given class are not
    uniform enough.

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • More frequently, we measure the apparent
    brightness of a star, and compare this with its
    intrinsic brightness (luminosity, or power) to
    determine the distance.
  • This is similar to how we judge the distance of
    an oncoming car at night We intuitively use the
    inverse-square law of light (discussed in Chapter
    11) when we see how bright a headlight appears to
  • We must be able to recognize that particular type
    of star in the galaxy, and we assume that all
    stars of that type are standard candles (a term
    left over from the 19th century, when sets of
    actual candles were manufactured to a standard
    brightness)that is, they all have the same

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • Historically, the best such candidates have been
    the Cepheid variables, at least in relatively
    nearby galaxies.
  • Though not all of uniform luminosity, they do
    obey a period-luminosity relation (see figure),
    as shown by Henrietta Leavitt in 1912.
  • Thus, if the variability period of a Cepheid is
    measured, its average luminosity can be read
    directly off the graph.

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • But individual stars are difficult to see in
    distant galaxies They merge with other stars
    when viewed with ground-based telescopes.
  • Other objects that have been used include
    luminous nebulae, globular star clusters, and
    novaethough all of them have substantial
  • They arent excellent standard candles, or are
    difficult to see in ground-based images, or
    depend on the assumed distances of some other
  • Even entire galaxies can be used, if we determine
    their luminosity from other properties.
  • The luminosity of a spiral galaxy is correlated
    with how rapidly it rotates, for example.
  • Also, the brightest galaxy in a large cluster has
    a roughly standard luminosity.
  • Again, however, significant uncertainties are
    associated with these techniques, or they depend
    on the proper calibration of a few key galaxies.

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • Throughout the 20th century, many astronomers
    have attempted to measure the value of Hubbles
  • Edwin Hubble himself initially came up with 550
    km/sec/Mpc, but several effects that were at that
    time unknown to him conspired to make this much
    too large.
  • From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the most
    frequently quoted values were between 70 and 50
    km /sec/Mpc, due largely to the painstaking work
    of Allan Sandage (see figure), a disciple of
    Edwin Hubble himself.

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • Such values yield a Hubble time of about 14 20
    billion years, the probable maximum age of the
  • The true expansion age could therefore be 913
    billion years, if it were only two-thirds of the
    Hubble time, as many cosmologists have been prone
    to believe.
  • These lower numbers may give rise to a
    discrepancy if the globular clusters are 1213
    billion years old.
  • Despite uncertainties in the measurements, an
    age crisis would exist if the clusters were 14
    17 billion years old, as was thought until the
  • But some astronomers obtained considerably larger
    values for H0, up to 100 km / sec/Mpc.
  • This value gives a Hubble time of about 10
    billion years, and two thirds of it is only 6.7
    billion years.
  • Even the recently revised ages of globular star
    clusters are substantially greater (1213 billion
    years), leading to a sharp age crisis.

18.3b The Quest for Hubbles Constant
  • The various teams of astronomers who got
    different answers all claimed to be doing careful
    work, but there are many potential hidden sources
    of error, and the assumptions might not be
    completely accurate.
  • The debate over the value of Hubbles constant
    has often been heated, and sessions of scientific
    meetings at which the subject is discussed are
    well attended.
  • Note that the value of Hubbles constant also has
    a broad effect on the perceived size of the
    observable Universe, not just its age.
  • For example, if Hubbles constant is 71
    km/sec/Mpc, then a galaxy whose recession speed
    is measured to be 7100 km /sec would be at a
    distance d v/H0 (7100 km /sec)/(71 km
    /sec/Mpc) 100 Mpc.
  • On the other hand, if Hubbles constant is
    actually 35.5 km /sec/Mpc, then the same galaxy
    is twice as distant d (7100 km /sec)/(35.5 km
    /sec/Mpc) 200 Mpc.

18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • The aptly named Hubble Space Telescope was
    expected to provide a major breakthrough in the
  • It was to obtain distances to many important
    galaxies, mostly through the use of Cepheid
    variable stars (see figure).
  • Indeed, very large amounts of telescope time were
    to be dedicated to this Key Project of
    measuring galaxy distances and deriving Hubbles
  • But astronomers had to wait a long time, even
    after the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope in
    1990, because the primary mirrors spherical
    aberration (see our discussion in Chapter 4) made
    it too difficult to detect and reliably measure
    Cepheids in the chosen galaxies.

18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • Finally, in 1994, the Hubble Key Project team
    announced their first results, based on Cepheids
    in only one galaxy (see figure).
  • Their value of H0 was about 80 km/sec/Mpc, higher
    than many astronomers had previously thought.
  • This implied that the Hubble time was 12 billion
    years the Universe could be no older, but
    perhaps significantly younger (down to 8 billion
    years) if the expansion decelerates with time.

18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • Because these values are less than 14 17 billion
    years (the ages preferred for globular star
    clusters at that time), this disagreement brought
    the age crisis to great prominence among
    astronomers, who shared it with the public.
  • How could the Universe, as measured with the
    mighty Hubble Space Telescope, be younger than
    its oldest contents?
  • There were several dramatic headlines in the news
    (see figure).

18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • Admittedly, the Hubble teams quoted value of H0
    had an uncertainty of 17 km/sec/Mpc, meaning that
    the actual value could be between about 63 and 97
  • Thus, the Universe could be as old as 1516
    billion years, especially if there has been
    little deceleration.
  • The ages of globular clusters were uncertain as
    well, so it was not entirely clear that the age
    crisis was severe.
  • But, as is often the case with newspaper and
    popular magazine articles, these subtleties are
    ignored or barely mentioned only the bottom
    line gets reported, especially if its exciting.

18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • In 2001, the Hubble team announced a final
    answer, which was based on several methods of
    finding distances, with Cepheid variables as far
    out as possible and supernovae pinning down the
    greatest distances.
  • Their preferred value of H0 was 72 km/sec/Mpc,
    with an uncertainty of about 8 km /sec/Mpc (see
    figure on the next slide).
  • But the Hubble team was not the only game in
    town, and other groups of scientists measured
    slightly different values.
  • A best bet estimate of H0 71 km /sec/Mpc
    seems reasonable, especially considering the
    measurements with the Wilkinson Microwave
    Anisotropy Probe (see our discussion in Chapter

18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • A value of 71 km /sec/Mpc for Hubbles constant
    means that the Universe has been expanding for
    13.9 billion years, if there is no deceleration.
  • By assuming only a small amount of deceleration
    (not as much as many theorists would have
    preferred), the Hubble team announced a
    best-estimate expansion age of 12 billion years
    for the Universe.
  • Moreover, around 2000, the preferred ages of
    globular clusters had shifted from 14 17 billion
    years to only 1114 billion years, based on
    accurate new parallaxes of stars from the
    Hipparcos satellite and on some new theoretical
  • This meant that the age discrepancy had subsided
    to some extent, but did not fully disappear if
    the globular clusters are actually as old as 13
    14 billion years.

18.3c A Key Project of the Hubble Space Telescope
  • But on what basis was the amount of deceleration
  • We will discuss this more fully in Section 18.5,
    with the surprising result that the assumed
    deceleration may have been erroneous.
  • Instead, the expansion rate of the Universe
    appears to actually be increasing with time!
  • This exciting discovery, known as the
    accelerating universe, is now accepted by most
    astronomers and physicists, contrary to the
    situation when it was initially announced in
  • As we shall see later in this chapter, recent
    evidence makes it quite convincing.
  • The discovery of acceleration implies some very
    intriguing, but also troubling, new aspects to
    the nature and evolution of the Universe.
  • If correct, however, it may fully resolve the age
    crisis We find that the expansion age of the
    Universe is 13.7 billion years, consistent with
    the 1213 billion year ages of globular clusters
    estimated most recently.

18.3d Deviations from Uniform Expansion
  • A major problem with using relatively nearby
    galaxies for measurements of Hubbles constant is
    that proper corrections must be made for
    deviations from the Hubble flow (the assumed
    uniform expansion of the Universe).
  • As we discussed in Chapter 16, there are
    concentrations of mass (clusters and
    superclusters) in certain regions, and large
    voids in others, so a specific galaxy may feel a
    greater pull in one direction than in another
  • It will therefore be pulled through space
    (relative to the Hubble flow), and its apparent
    recession speed may be affected.
  • Though the galaxys recession speed is easy to
    measure from a spectrum, it might not represent
    the true expansion of space.

18.3d Deviations from Uniform Expansion
  • For example, the Virgo Cluster of galaxies (see
    figure) is receding from us more slowly than it
    would if it had no mass The Milky Way Galaxy is
    falling toward the Virgo Cluster, thereby
    counteracting part of the expansion of space.
  • Such gravitationally induced peculiar motions are
    typically a few hundred kilometers per second,
    but can reach as high as 1000 km /sec.
  • Their exact size is difficult to determine
    without detailed knowledge of the distribution of
    matter in the Universe.
  • In the case of the Virgo Cluster, the average
    observed recession speed is about 1100 km /sec,
    and the peculiar motion is thought to be about
    300 km /sec, but this is uncertain.
  • Errors in the adopted true recession speed
    directly affect the derived value of Hubbles

18.3d Deviations from Uniform Expansion
  • A surprising discovery was that even the Virgo
    Cluster is moving with respect to the average
    expansion of the Universe.
  • Some otherwise unseen Great Attractor is
    pulling the Local Group, the Virgo Cluster, and
    even the much larger Hydra-Centaurus Supercluster
    toward it.
  • Redshift measurements by a team of astronomers
    informally known as the Seven Samurai showed
    the location of the giant mass that must be
    involved. (See the interview in this book with
    Sandra Faber, its head.)
  • It is about three times farther from us than the
    Virgo Cluster, and includes tens of thousands of
    galaxies or their equivalent mass.

18.3d Deviations from Uniform Expansion
  • Measurements of still more distant galaxies avoid
    the problem of peculiar motions when trying to
    determine Hubbles constant.
  • For example, compared with galaxies having
    recession speeds of 15,00030,000 km /sec, the
    peculiar motions are negligible.
  • So, measurements of their distances, when
    combined with their recession speeds, can yield
    an accurate value of H0.
  • The trick is to find their distancesand this
    cant be done directly with Cepheid variable
    stars because they arent intrinsically bright

18.3e Type Ia Supernovae as Cosmological
  • In the 1990s, a remarkably reliable method was
    developed for measuring the distances of very
    distant galaxies.
  • It is based on Type Ia supernovae (white-dwarf
    supernovae), which are exploding stars that
    result from a nuclear runaway in a white dwarf
    (see our discussion in Chapter 13).
  • When they reach their peak power, these objects
    shine with the luminosity (intrinsic brightness)
    of about 10 billion Suns, or about a million
    times more than Cepheid variables.
  • So, they can be seen at very large distances,
    1000 times greater than Cepheid variables (see

18.3e Type Ia Supernovae as Cosmological
  • Most observed Type Ia supernovae are found to
    have nearly the same peak luminosity, as would be
    expected since the exploding white dwarf is
    thought to always have the same mass (the
    Chandrasekhar limit).
  • Type Ia supernovae are therefore very good
    standard candles for measuring distances. (They
    do show small variations in peak luminosity, but
    we have ways of taking this into
    accountessentially like reading the wattage
    label on a light bulb.)
  • By comparing the apparent brightness of a faint
    Type Ia supernova in a distant galaxy with the
    supernovas known luminosity, and by using the
    inverse-square law of light, we obtain the
    distance of the supernova, and hence of the
    galaxy in which it exploded (see figure).

18.3e Type Ia Supernovae as Cosmological
  • Of course, to apply this method successfully, we
    need to know the peak luminosity of a Type Ia
  • But this can be found by measuring the peak
    apparent brightness of a supernova in a
    relatively nearby galaxyone whose distance can
    be measured by other techniques, such as Cepheid
    variable stars.
  • So, an important part of the Hubble Key Project
    was to find the distances of galaxies in which
    Type Ia supernovae had previously been seen, and
    in that way to calibrate the peak luminosity of
    Type Ia supernovae.
  • By 2005, reliable distances to over a dozen such
    galaxies had been measured.
  • Indeed, our adopted value of H0 71 km /sec/Mpc
    is partly dependent on this work.

18.4 The Geometry and Fateof the Universe
  • We have seen that to determine the age of the
    Universe, its expansion history (in addition to
    Hubbles constant) must be known.
  • It turns out that, under certain assumptions, the
    expansion history is closely linked to the
    eventual fate of the Universe as well as to its
    overall (large-scale) geometry.

18.4a The Cosmological Principle Uniformity
  • Mathematically, we use Einsteins general theory
    of relativity to study the expansion and overall
    geometry of the Universe.
  • Since matter produces spacetime curvature (as we
    have seen when studying black holes in Chapter
    14), we expect the average density to affect the
    overall geometry of the Universe.
  • The average density should also affect the way in
    which the expansion changes with time High
    densities are able to slow down the expansion
    more than low densities, due to the gravitational
    pull of matter.
  • Thus, the average density appears to be the most
    important parameter governing the Universe as a

18.4a The Cosmological Principle Uniformity
  • To simplify the equations and achieve reasonable
    progress, we assume the cosmological principle
    On the largest size scales, the Universe is very
    uniformit is homogeneous and isotropic.
  • Homogeneous means that it has the same average
    density everywhere at a given time (though the
    density can change with time).
  • Isotropic means that it looks the same in all
    directionsthere is no preferred axis along which
    most of the galaxies are lined up, for example
    (see figure).
  • Note that we can check for isotropy only from our
    own position in space.
  • However, for even greater simplicity we could
    suppose that the Universe looks isotropic from
    all points. (In this case of isotropy everywhere,
    the Universe is also necessarily homogeneous.)

18.4a The Cosmological Principle Uniformity
  • The cosmological principle is basic to most
    big-bang theories.
  • But it is clearly incorrect on small scales A
    human, the Earth, the Solar System, the Milky Way
    Galaxy, and our Local Group of galaxies have a
    far higher density than average.
  • Even the supercluster of galaxies to which the
    Milky Way belongs is somewhat denser than
  • However, averaged over volumes about a billion
    light-years in diameter, the cosmological
    principle does appear to hold.
  • The largest structures in the Universe seem to be
    superclusters and huge voids, but these are only
    a few hundred million lightyears in diameter.
  • Moreover, as we will see in Chapter 19, the
    strongest evidence comes from the cosmic
    background radiation that pervades the Universe
    It looks the same in all directions, and it comes
    to us from a distance of about 14 billion
  • Thus, over large distances, the Universe is
    indeed uniform.

18.4b No Cosmological Constant?
  • Another assumption we will make, at least
    temporarily, is that there are no long-range
    forces other than gravity, and that only normal
    matter and energy (with an attractive
    gravitational force) play a significant
    rolethere is no dark energy having a repulsive
  • Prior to Edwin Hubbles discovery that the
    Universe is expanding, most people thought the
    Universe is static (neither expanding nor
    contracting), which in some ways is aesthetically
  • Einstein knew that normal gravity should make the
    Universe contract, so in 1917 he postulated a
    long-range repulsive force, sort of a cosmic
    antigravity, with a specific value that made the
    Universe static (see figure).
  • This fudge factor became known as the
    cosmological constant, denoted by the Greek
    capital letter ? (lambda).

18.4b No Cosmological Constant?
  • Though not mathematically incorrect, the
    cosmological constant is aesthetically
    displeasing, and it implies that the vacuum has a
    nonzero energy.
  • Einstein was never fond of it, and reluctantly
    introduced it only because of the existing
    evidence for a static universe.
  • In 1929, when Hubble discovered the expansion of
    the Universe, the entire physical and
    philosophical motivation for the cosmological
    constant vanished.
  • The Universe wasnt static, and no forces are
    needed to make it expand.
  • After all, the Universe could have simply begun
    its existence in an expanding state, and is still
  • Einstein renounced the cosmological constant and
    was unhappy that he had erred after all, he
    could have predicted that the Universe is dynamic
    rather than static.

18.4b No Cosmological Constant?
  • However, the concept of the cosmological constant
    itself (or, more generally, repulsive dark
    energy see Section 18.5d) should perhaps not be
    considered erroneous.
  • In a sense, it is just a generalization of
    Einsteins relativistic equations for the
  • The mistake was in supposing that the
    cosmological constant has the precise value
    needed to achieve a static universeespecially
    since this turns out to be an unstable
    mathematical solution (slightly perturbing the
    Universe leads to expansion or collapse).

18.4b No Cosmological Constant?
  • Nevertheless, it isnt clear what could
    physically produce a nonzero cosmological
    constant, and the simplest possibility is that
    the cosmological constant is zero (? 0).
  • Since there has generally been no strong
    observational evidence for a nonzero cosmological
    constant, astronomers have long assumed that its
    value is indeed zero.
  • This is what we will initially assume here,
    toobut later in this chapter we will discuss
    exciting evidence that the cosmological constant
    (or some kind of dark energy that behaves in a
    similar way) isnt zero after all.

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • Given the assumptions of the cosmological
    principle and no long-range antigravity, and also
    that no new matter or energy are created after
    the birth of the Universe, the general theory of
    relativity allows only three possibilities.
  • These are known as Friedmann universes in honor
    of Alexander Friedmann, who, in the 1920s, was
    the first to derive them mathematically.
  • In each case the expansion decelerates with time,
    but the ultimate fate (that is, whether the
    expansion ever stops and reverses) depends on the
    overall average density of matter relative to a
    specific critical density.
  • If we define the average matter density divided
    by the critical density to be ?M, where ? is the
    Greek capital letter Omega and the subscript M
    stands for matter, then the three possible
    universes correspond to the cases where this
    ratio is greater than one, equal to one, and less
    than one.

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • The separation between any two galaxies versus
    time is shown in the figure for the three types
    of universes.
  • It is best to choose galaxies in different
    clusters (or even different superclusters, to be
    absolutely safe), since we dont want them to be
    bound together by gravity.
  • This galaxy separation is often called the scale
    factor of the Universe it tells us about the
    expansion of the Universe itself.

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • If ?M gt 1 (that is, the average density is above
    the critical density), galaxies
    separateprogressively more slowly with time, but
    they eventually turn around and approach each
    other (in other words, the recession speed
    becomes negative), ending in a hot big crunch.
    (Some astronomers also jokingly call it a gnab
    gib, which is big bang backwards!)
  • A good analogy is a ball thrown upward with a
    speed less than Earths escape speed it
    eventually falls back down.
  • It is conceivable that another big bang
    subsequently occurs, resulting in an oscillating
    universe, but we have little confidence in this
    hypothesis since the laws of physics as currently
    stated cannot be traced through the big crunch.

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • If ?M 1 (that is, the average density is
    exactly equal to the critical density), galaxies
    separate more and more slowly with time, but as
    time approaches infinity, the recession speed
    approaches zero.
  • Thus, the Universe will expand forever, though
    just barely.
  • The relevant analogy is a ball thrown upward with
    a speed equal to Earths escape speed it
    continues to recede from Earth ever more slowly,
    and it stops when time reaches infinity.
  • This turns out to be the type of universe
    predicted by most inflation theories (which we
    will study in Chapter 19).
  • If ?M lt 1 (that is, the average density is below
    the critical density), galaxies separate more and
    more slowly with time, but as time approaches
    infinity, the recession speed (for a given pair
    of galaxies) approaches a constant, nonzero
  • Thus, the Universe will easily expand forever.
  • Once again using our ball analogy, it is like a
    ball thrown upward with a speed greater than
    Earths escape speed it continues to recede from
    Earth ever more slowly, but it never stops

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • These three kinds of universes have different
    overall geometries.
  • The ?M 1 case is known as a flat universe or a
    critical universe.
  • It is described by Euclidean geometrythat is,
    the geometry worked out first by the Greek
    mathematician Euclid in the third century b.c.
  • In particular, Euclids fifth postulate is
    satisfied Given a line and a point not on that
    line, only one unique parallel line can be drawn
    through the point (see figure).
  • Such a universe is spatially flat, formally
    infinite in volume (but see the caveat at the end
    of Section 18.4c), and barely expands forever.
  • Its age is exactly two-thirds of the Hubble time,
    (?)/H0 (?)T0.

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • In the ?M gt 1 universe, Euclids fifth postulate
    fails in the following way Given a line and a
    point not on that line, no parallel lines can be
    drawn through the point (see figure).
  • Such a universe has positive spatial curvature,
    is finite (closed) in volume, but has no
    boundaries (edges) like those of a box.
  • Its fate is a hot big crunch.
  • Generally known as a closed universe, it is also
    sometimes called a spherical (hyperspherical)
    or positively curved universe.
  • Its age is less than two-thirds of the Hubble

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • Finally, in the ?M lt 1 universe, Euclids fifth
    postulate fails in the following way Given a
    line and a point not on that line, many (indeed,
    infinitely many) parallel lines can be drawn
    through the point (see figure).
  • Such a universe has negative spatial curvature,
    is formally infinite (open) in volume (but see
    the caveat at the end of Section 18.4c), and
    easily expands forever.
  • Generally known as an open universe, it is also
    sometimes called a hyperbolic or negatively
    curved universe.
  • Its age is between (?)T0 and T0 (the latter
    extreme only if ?M 0).

18.4c Three Kinds of Possible Universes
  • Note that in some texts and magazine articles,
    the ?M 1 universe is called closed, but only
    because it is almost closed.
  • It actually represents the dividing line between
    open and closed.
  • Under certain conditions, flat or negatively
    curved universes might have exotic shapes with
    finite volume.
  • Even positively curved universes might not be
    simple hyperspheres.
  • It is difficult, but not impossible, to
    distinguish such universes from the standard
    ones discussed above, and so far no clear
    observational evidence for them has been found.
  • Though quite intriguing, in this book we will not
    further consider this possibility.
  • Keep in mind, though, that convincing support for
    a finite, strangely shaped universe might be
    found in the future we should always be open to
    potential surprises.

18.4d Two-Dimensional Analogues
  • It is useful to consider analogues to the above
    universes, but with only two spatial dimensions
    (see figures on the next slide).
  • The flat universe is like an infinite sheet of
  • One property is that the sum of the interior
    angles of a triangle is always 180, regardless
    of the shape and size of the triangle.
  • Moreover, the area A of a circle of radius R is
    proportional to R 2 (that is, A ?R 2).
  • This relation can be measured by scattering dots
    uniformly (homogeneously) across a sheet of
    paper, and seeing that the number of dots
    enclosed by a circle grows in proportion to R 2.

18.4d Two-Dimensional Analogues
18.4d Two-Dimensional Analogues
  • The positively curved universe is like the
    surface of a sphere.
  • The sum of the interior angles of a triangle is
    always greater than 180.
  • For example, a triangle consisting of a segment
    along the equator of the Earth, and two segments
    going up to the north pole at right angles from
    the ends of the equatorial segment, clearly has a
    sum greater than 180.
  • Moreover, the area of a circle of radius R falls
    short of being proportional to R 2.
  • If the sphere is uniformly covered with dots, the
    number of dots enclosed by a circle grows more
    slowly with R than in flat space because a
    flattened version of the sphere contains missing

18.4d Two-Dimensional Analogues
  • The negatively curved universe is somewhat like
    the surface of an infinite horses saddle or
    potato chip.
  • These analogies are not perfect because a horses
    saddle (or potato chip) embedded in a universe
    with three spatial dimensions is not isotropic
    the saddle point, for example, can be
    distinguished from other points.
  • The sum of the interior angles of a triangle is
    always less than 180.
  • The area of a circle of radius R is more than
    proportional to R 2.
  • If the saddle is homogeneously covered with dots,
    the number of dots enclosed by a circle grows
    more quickly with R than in flat space because a
    flattened version of the saddle contains extra

18.4d Two-Dimensional Analogues
  • With three spatial dimensions, we can generalize
    to the growth of volumes V with radius R.
  • In a flat universe, the volume of a sphere is
    proportional to R 3 that is, V (4/3)?R 3.
  • In a positively curved universe, the volume of a
    sphere is not quite proportional to R 3.
  • In a negatively curved universe, the volume of a
    sphere is more than proportional to R 3.

18.4e What Kind of Universe Do We Live In?
  • How do we go about determining to which of the
    above possibilities our Universe corresponds?
  • There are a number of different methods.
  • Perhaps most obvious, we can measure the average
    density of matter, and compare it with the
    critical density.
  • The value of ?M (again, the ratio of the average
    matter density to the critical density) is
    greater than 1 if the Universe is closed, equal
    to 1 if the Universe is flat (critical), and less
    than 1 if the Universe is open.
  • Or, we can measure the expansion rate in the
    distant past (preferably at several different
    epochs), compare it with the current expansion
    rate, and calculate how fast the Universe is
  • This can be done by looking at very distant
    galaxies, which are seen as they were long ago,
    when the Universe was younger.

18.4e What Kind of Universe Do We Live In?
  • We can also examine geometrical properties of the
    Universe to determine its overall curvature.
  • For example, in principle we can see whether the
    sum of the interior angles of an enormous
    triangle is greater than, equal to, or less than
  • This is not very practical, however, since we
    cannot draw a sufficiently large triangle.
  • Or, we can see whether parallel lines ever
    meetbut again, this is not practical, since we
    cannot reach sufficiently large distances.

18.4e What Kind of Universe Do We Live In?
  • A better geometrical method is to measure the
    angular sizes of galaxies as a function of
  • High-redshift galaxies of fixed physical size
    will appear larger in angular size if space has
    positive curvature than if it has zero or
    negative curvature, because light rays diverge
    more slowly in a closed universe than in a flat
    universe or in an open universe (see figures).

18.4e What Kind of Universe Do We Live In?
  • Or, we could instead look at the apparent
    brightness of objects as a function of distance.
  • High-redshift objects of fixed luminosity
    (intrinsic brightness) will appear brighter if
    space has positive curvature than if it has zero
    or negative curvature again, light rays diverge
    more slowly in a closed universe (see figures).

18.4e What Kind of Universe Do We Live In?
  • We might also count the number of galaxies as a
    function of distance to see how volume grows with
    radius (if galaxies dont evolve with time,
    something known to be untrue).
  • This is analogous to the measurement of area in
    two-dimensional universes, as explained in
    Section 18.4d.
  • If space is flat,