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The incomprehensible vastness of the universe


Forum Editor

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Scientists believe the explosion of a huge star near the edge of the observable Universe may be the most distant single object yet seen by a telecope. It's thought that the event occurred just 520 million years after the big bang. This means its light has taken 13.14 billion years to reach Earth.

Now that's what I call a long way. click here to read more

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Forum Editor

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"...space is expanding so fast that it has taken the electomagnetic energy released by the explosion, travelling at the speed of light, until now to catch up with us."

Is it really space that is expanding, or are the objects in it moving away from each other?

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userious?

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Makes you wonder what the point of it all is.

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natdoor

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FE

I think the difference is that if we were simply moving away from one another we would "move out of the universe" i.e run out of space. Space has to expand because the universe is expanding. The fact that the space between is expanding also means that we are moving apart. The speed of this separation gives rise to the red shift.

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Forum Editor

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natdoor

We tend to say say that space is expanding because the distance between objects is increasing, and - as you say - if objects were just moving away from each other they would eventually run out of space in which to travel.

However......

We have no idea about how much space there is into which the universe may expand - it might be infinite if we think of it expanding in a spiral of constant radius.

It's all very intriguing, and the theorising will continue. Whatever the truth, we can be sure of one thing - expansion has been under way for an almost unimaginable length of time, and is likely to continue for an equally unimaginable time in the future.

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userious?

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Can we see the light from distant galaxies 13 billion light years away in all directions?????

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Forum Editor

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userious?

We could if we were somewhere else, always assuming that there was 13 billion light years of space between us and the point of origin of the light. I can see what you're getting at, but the truth is, nobody knows.

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oresome

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The example I find easiest to visualise is to imagine the objects drawn on the surface of a balloon that is being inflated. The space is being expanded as the objects move further from the centre and from each other.

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oresome

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PS

I believe the balloon will go pop one day and everything will rush back to the centre, only to start all over again.

I wonder how many times this has happened already?

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Forum Editor

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oresome

Well, according to Stephen Hawking the universe (and time itself) began with the big bang. At that point all the matter in the universe was compressed into a single point of infinite density - a singularity. After the bang the universe started to expand, and that process continues.

The universe will eventually collapse again, although not for at least another 20 billion years, and maybe a great deal longer. Once that process begins the universe will contract until it is once again an infinitely dense singularity, and time will finally stop.

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Colonel Graham

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Then I shall have to invent a time machine. Puts thinking cap on and reaches for the JD.

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