Cosmology / Articles from The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Quantum World
last update: Jan 29 '17

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
October 27, 2015

"The baffling and strange behaviors of black holes have become somewhat less mysterious recently,
with new observations from NASA's Explorer missions Swift and the Nuclear Spectroscopic Telescope Array, or NuSTAR.

"The corona gathered inward at first and then launched upwards like a jet."

"We still don't know how jets in black holes form,
but it's an exciting possibility that this black hole's corona was
beginning to form the base of a jet before it collapsed."
, said Wilkins.

Wednesday, 26 April, 2000, 19:59 GMT 20:59 UK
Universe 'proven flat'

A high-flying balloon which soared over Antarctica has answered one of cosmology's greatest questions by revealing that the universe is "flat".  To astronomers, flat means that the usual rules of geometry are observed - light travels in straight lines, not curves. But since Albert Einstein proposed that the universe was "curved", the debate has been open. Scientific opinion has moved towards a flat universe and the latest data confirm this with greater certainty than ever before. Another result of the study is the prediction that the universe will eventually stop expanding from the Big Bang, but will not collapse into a "Big Crunch". "It's a tremendously exciting result - and one that will mean rewriting the text books on the history of the universe," said one of the research team, Professor Peter Ade at Queen Mary College, University of London.  The new information is an exquisitely accurate map of the very faint afterglow of heat left behind by the Big Bang. This is called the Cosmic Microwave Background and is equivalent to the tiny warmth given off by something just a few degrees above absolute zero, -273 degC.

Read the complete article here.

My curiosity was tickled, and I looked at this discovery in a greater detail. 

This is what is accepted about Cosmology today:

The Universe started in a Big Bang approximately 12 Billion years ago, and since then has been expanding.   Space-time has been expanding since and is still in the process of expansion.

The CMB (Cosmic Microwave Background radiation) is a remnant of the Big Bang.  Light photons move at the fastest possible speed in the Universe, namely at the speed of light.

Matter does not move at the speed of light.  To accelerate any quantity of matter to the speed of light would require all available energy in the Universe (there are formulas which prove this).

There is now an apparent conundrum, regarding the detection of the CMB in the early history of our Universe.

Starting from a common point (the singularity) all matter and space came into existence 12 Billion years ago.

The photons of the CMB which were detected by Boomerang are the oldest photons ever detected by humans.  They are almost 12 Billion years old.  We can calculate their age by looking at the red-shift.   We can also tell how far away they are by looking at the redshift, also known as the Doppler effect.

We derive thus their age, and distance. 

Graph 1 is a simple space-time diagram.  I have roughly indicated the position of the Earth (2.) and of the CMB (1.).
The CMB in position 1. is calculated to come from a time and distance shortly after the Big Bang.  This happened 12 Billion years ago, and the graph shows where Earth is now in position 2.

The picture on the left shows the scale of the CMB (Image courtesy of the BBC).
There is however one little snag, which I cannot reconcile with this pretty picture:

If the photons of the CMB originated 12 Billion years ago, and are only reaching us now, why did it take so long for them to reach Earth?  The photons from the CMB have travelled for 12 Billion years at the speed of light, but Earth has not travelled at the speed of light during this time.

The photons from the early formation of the Galaxies ought to be in position 3., or even further apart from Earths relative position; they should have long since overtaken us.

To say that the photons from a time shortly after the Big Bang are just being now received on Earth would mean that Earth itself must have travelled at lightspeed, in order to receive this snapshot of an early Universe.

If you have any suggestions how this can be, please drop me an E-mail or discuss it on Facebook.