Awesome Astronomy


What is cosmology and why is it awesome?

Cosmology is basically the study of the universe: what it looks like, where it came from, how it behaves, and what we can learn from it about the future and past.

What does the universe look like? Well, no one knows for sure whether or not the universe has a definitive shape or even if our universe is alone or one of many. But we have been able to map surprisingly large amounts of the universe.

Map of the Universe

One thing we are pretty sure about is that the universe is expanding. Many people think that this means that the galaxies themselves are expanding, but the size of the objects in the universe are not effected, just their positions relative to one another. This animation shows what the universe would look like expanding if it were round. The white spirals represent galaxies.

Hubble’s Law tells us that the age of the Universe should be somewhere around 14 billion years old… but where did it come from and why is it here?

One theory to explain this is the Big Bang.It’s the theory that basically one day our Universe, which was at that moment in time an infinitely dense point of mass, suddenly underwent a reaction so violent it caused such massive expansion that, well, 14 billion years later, the Universe is pretty big.

There’s still a lot of debate as to what that first event was that caused this expansion, but astronomers have been able to describe a surprising amount of what they believe happened immediately following the Big Bang. This handy timeline describes the evolution of the Universe quite efficently:

Evolution of the Universe

But where did that mass come from? No one’s sure. Some scientists hypothesize we might have begun at the center of a black hole. Another pretty awesome theory I heard the other day (but which I haven’t validated yet, so don’t quote me) is that our Universe might actually be stuck between two massive black holes that are pulling us apart. Disturbing, but also pretty awesome.

Another question that arises as a result of our conception of the Big Bang is why is everything made of matter and not antimatter?

You’ve probably heard of antimatter thanks to Dan Brown and CERN, but where antimatter came from and what the implications it can have for astronomy are still unclear.

Antimatter is exactly like matter, except made out of electrons that are oppositely charged. This means that if you saw a far off galaxy you would have no way of knowing if it was made of matter or antimatter because they look exactly the same. Both where created out of the same energy split in half, which is why when they come in contact they annihilate each other and become energy again. When they where created some slight tip in the scales allowed matter to overpower antimatter when composing our universe. However, this does not mean all the antimatter is just gone. It may have formed another antimatter universe parallel to our own. Pretty awesome when you think about it.

Well, I guess that is all for now.

Next time I will wrap up with some generally awesome facts and videos about astronomy.


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