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  • Discuss the expansion of the universe.
  • Explain the Big Bang.

Look at the sky on some clear night when you are away from city lights. There you will see thousands of individual stars and a faint glowing background of millions more. The Milky Way, as it has been called since ancient times, is an arm of our galaxy of stars—the word galaxy coming from the Greek word galaxias , meaning milky. We know a great deal about our Milky Way galaxy and of the billions of other galaxies beyond its fringes. But they still provoke wonder and awe (see [link] ). And there are still many questions to be answered. Most remarkable when we view the universe on the large scale is that once again explanations of its character and evolution are tied to the very small scale. Particle physics and the questions being asked about the very small scales may also have their answers in the very large scales.

The photo shows a lot of small bright spots of different shapes and sizes on a black background. Some spots show evidence of an interior spiral structure whereas others are more uniform.
Take a moment to contemplate these clusters of galaxies, photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope. Trillions of stars linked by gravity in fantastic forms, glowing with light and showing evidence of undiscovered matter. What are they like, these myriad stars? How did they evolve? What can they tell us of matter, energy, space, and time? (credit: NASA, ESA, K. Sharon (Tel Aviv University) and E. Ofek (Caltech))

As has been noted in numerous Things Great and Small vignettes, this is not the first time the large has been explained by the small and vice versa. Newton realized that the nature of gravity on Earth that pulls an apple to the ground could explain the motion of the moon and planets so much farther away. Minute atoms and molecules explain the chemistry of substances on a much larger scale. Decays of tiny nuclei explain the hot interior of the Earth. Fusion of nuclei likewise explains the energy of stars. Today, the patterns in particle physics seem to be explaining the evolution and character of the universe. And the nature of the universe has implications for unexplored regions of particle physics.

Cosmology is the study of the character and evolution of the universe. What are the major characteristics of the universe as we know them today? First, there are approximately 10 11 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"11"} } } {} galaxies in the observable part of the universe. An average galaxy contains more than 10 11 size 12{"10" rSup { size 8{"11"} } } {} stars, with our Milky Way galaxy being larger than average, both in its number of stars and its dimensions. Ours is a spiral-shaped galaxy with a diameter of about 100,000 light years and a thickness of about 2000 light years in the arms with a central bulge about 10,000 light years across. The Sun lies about 30,000 light years from the center near the galactic plane. There are significant clouds of gas, and there is a halo of less-dense regions of stars surrounding the main body. (See [link] .) Evidence strongly suggests the existence of a large amount of additional matter in galaxies that does not produce light—the mysterious dark matter we shall later discuss.

The figure contains three images of the Milky Way galaxy. The first is a side view from outer space and shows a long thin grouping of bright stars against a black background. In the middle of this thin line of stars is a bright yellow ball that looks a bit like an egg yolk in the middle of the egg white. The length of the thin line is given as one hundred thousand light years and it thickness is given as two thousand light years. The diameter of the egg-yolk-like cluster in the middle is given as ten thousand light years. Thirty thousand light years to the left of the center of the egg yolk is the Sun. The second image is a view from above of the Milky Way galaxy and shows several spiral arms twisting outward from the center egg-yolk form. The last image is a photograph from Earth of the Milky Way galaxy in the nighttime sky. It shows a dusting of stars in the sky, with a slight concentration of star dust forming a horizontal stripe across the image.
The Milky Way galaxy is typical of large spiral galaxies in its size, its shape, and the presence of gas and dust. We are fortunate to be in a location where we can see out of the galaxy and observe the vastly larger and fascinating universe around us. (a) Side view. (b) View from above. (c) The Milky Way as seen from Earth. (credits: (a) NASA, (b) Nick Risinger, (c) Andy)

Questions & Answers

What is the difference between a principle and a law
the law is universally proved. The principal depends on certain conditions.
state Faraday first law
aliyu Reply
what does the speedometer of a car measure ?
Jyoti Reply
Car speedometer measures the rate of change of distance per unit time.
describe how a Michelson interferometer can be used to measure the index of refraction of a gas (including air)
using the law of reflection explain how powder takes the shine off a person's nose. what is the name of the optical effect?
is higher resolution of microscope using red or blue light?.explain
can sound wave in air be polarized?
Unlike transverse waves such as electromagnetic waves, longitudinal waves such as sound waves cannot be polarized. ... Since sound waves vibrate along their direction of propagation, they cannot be polarized
A proton moves at 7.50×107m/s perpendicular to a magnetic field. The field causes the proton to travel in a circular path of radius 0.800 m. What is the field strength?
Celedonio Reply
derived dimenionsal formula
Ajak Reply
what is the difference between mass and weight
Isru Reply
assume that a boy was born when his father was eighteen years.if the boy is thirteen years old now, how is his father in
what is head-on collision
Javaid Reply
what is airflow
Godswill Reply
derivative of first differential equation
Haruna Reply
why static friction is greater than Kinetic friction
Ali Reply
draw magnetic field pattern for two wire carrying current in the same direction
Ven Reply
An American traveler in New Zealand carries a transformer to convert New Zealand’s standard 240 V to 120 V so that she can use some small appliances on her trip.
nkombo Reply
What is the ratio of turns in the primary and secondary coils of her transformer?
what is energy
How electric lines and equipotential surface are mutually perpendicular?
Abid Reply
The potential difference between any two points on the surface is zero that implies È.Ŕ=0, Where R is the distance between two different points &E= Electric field intensity. From which we have cos þ =0, where þ is the angle between the directions of field and distance line, as E andR are zero. Thus
sorry..E and R are non zero...

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Source:  OpenStax, College physics. OpenStax CNX. Jul 27, 2015 Download for free at http://legacy.cnx.org/content/col11406/1.9
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