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Visible universe only a small part of the whole universe

  • peterhousehold
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Can someone give me, or point me to, a simple explanation of how come the visible universe is only thought to be a small part of the whole universe? Intuitively this sounds impossible. Is it the case that the expansion of the universe is, or at some stage has been, faster than light speed? And what is the expansion rate thought to be now? Sorry to raise this old chestnut which those of you who are expert are probably weary of explaining! Many thanks
15 years 7 months ago #47005

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Peter --

My memory is pretty hazy, but I *think* the "faster-than-light" expansion is what's known as hyper-inflation, and I *think* it all happened in the first few seconds.

Note that nothing actually moved faster than light. The coordinate system itself was expanding, so things were getting farther apart without necessarily moving (though I think they were moving as well).

-- Jeff.
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15 years 7 months ago #47014

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Richard Feinman,Nobel Laureate, was honest enough to say that he had no idea of why all this stuff is happening.

I suspect that our present theories will look daft, quaint and old fashioned in just a thousand years in the future.

In 3007 AD they will smile at our folly.

Dark Matter,Dark Energy,Cosmic Acceleration etc. all look terribly "contrived".

There is a deeper truth in there somewhere.

Peter.
15 years 7 months ago #47019

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Every point in the universe is expanding. So, the further stuff is away from you the more area there is between you and the other object and the faster it appears to be expanding. There is a distance at which the apparent expansion will be the speed of light. That's the edge of the visible universe.

There is nothing special about it. If we were over at Aplha Centuri there would be about 4 light years that we could see then that can't be seen form earth and vica-versa.

Also, were the actual edge to be anywhere near the visible edge we should see some form of edge effects, we don't, so most probably it goes on well beyond the bit we can see.

Hope that makes some sense.

Bart.
My Home Page - www.bartbusschots.ie
15 years 7 months ago #47026

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Nice explaination, Bart.

-- Jeff.
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15 years 7 months ago #47106

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Every point in the universe is expanding. So, the further stuff is away from you the more area there is between you and the other object and the faster it appears to be expanding. There is a distance at which the apparent expansion will be the speed of light. That's the edge of the visible universe.


The edge of the visible universe corresponds to the light distance of the age of the universe; this is probably the same thing but my brain isn't in good enough shape to work it out at this instant. :?
15 years 7 months ago #47108

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The rapid expansion idea comes from the fact that what we see of the Universe appears fairly homogenous or uniform. Thus the theory goes that sometime in the initial phase of the Big Bang there was an intermediate phase of rapid expansion which took a relatively small portion of the big bang substance and expanded this by an exteremly large factor ( I dont remember what the factor is but certainly its greater than 10 to the power of 20 also this was not in the first few seconds but sometime like during the first ten to the power of minus 10 or less- some one please correct my figures).

Apart from the 'Visible Horizon' idea, it is used to explain the idea that if we look in one direction and see a particular composition in a large area of the Universe, then looking in the 'opposite' direction we see a broadly similar composition. In effect this means that any non-homogenity at the two extremes of our visible Universe has had 'time' to communicate and with the other extreme and effectively level out any imbalance. Thus it is possible that there are additional parts beyond our visible Universe that exist and MAY be different to what we can acually observe.

The Visible Horizon idea links from our general ideas of Cosmic expansion based as you know on observations correlating Red Shift and the periods of Cephid Varibles ( basically the further away you are from the point of observation the greater the apparent relative exapnsion you observe).

Hence there is a limiting distance from here to there which occurs when the relative velocity of observed expansion is 'c' the speed of light - which comes from Special Relativity. Thus the 'Boundary' of what we see from here is limited to a distance based the age of the Universe times the speed of light ( in light years). This means that we can in theory see back to that phase of the Big Bang when matter condensed from light. It also means that due to the Length Contraction effect from Special Relativity the apparent thickness of the boundary of what we see is infinitessmly small ie a shell of zero thickness.
ULT
15 years 7 months ago #47166

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In reply to pmgisme,

Yes it is a puzzle.

If you start with a blank graph. Take the verticle axis to be 'Observed Properties' and the horizontal to be 'Time'.

Then add two points 'Origin' at 0,0 and another point in the first
quadrant representing 'Now'.

There are obviously an infinite number of different ways to draw a path joining the two points - in fact there are infinitely more paths which can be drawn by travelling into that portion of the graph which exists in the future and then travels backwards to arrive eventually at Now.
But ignore these and concentrate on those paths limited by the rectangle whose width is just Origin to Now on the x axis, but whose height in the y axis is then 0 to Infinite.

Now the simplest path in this rectangle is just a straight line joining Origin to Now. The next would be a simple curve following an Exponential curve next a curve following a quadratic or higher order path. The main properties being that these are continuous in the allowed region and they are 'easy' to define and for someone like Euclid would be 'pure'. However there are also an infinitely greater number of paths with discontinuities in the same rectangle, indeed these include paths which are simply discrete points chosen at random in the rectangle. Then the balance of probability is that development of the Universe may have contained some discontinous parts ( equivalent to expansion) than those which were continous curves.

The above is just my own concept - I am amazed at the BS which I can conjure up sometimes!
ULT
15 years 7 months ago #47167

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