The Observable Universe may be One Amazing Space among Many

Hi, it’s Stephen Wolfing, science expert at the Greenygrey. It’s hard to imagine, but the night-sky you see only contains a miniscule amount of what is actually in space around us. This was emphasised by a photo in an article on the Matador Network.

Amount of Galaxies in Space is Astounding

The article about telescopes by Hal Amen featured an image by the Hubble telescope showing an area in space a tenth the diameter of the full moon as we see it from Earth. They found 10,000 galaxies in the image. If that random part of space is typical, then there are 100 billion galaxies in the observable universe.

Our Milky Way galaxy is one amongst billions, as our sun is one star amongst billions and our planet one amongst billions; with many exo-planets and moons thought to be ideal for harbouring life. This image shows our sun’s position in our galaxy:

Image from the Atlas of the Universe website.

Beyond the Observable Universe

Although our brains and technology have obviously not seen what is beyond the observable universe, scientists have some theories. Martin Rees believes that we may be one universe among many. He proposed this in an article on the Prospect website, which began and ended with these paragraphs:

An astonishing concept has entered mainstream cosmological thought: physical reality could be hugely more extensive than the patch of space and time traditionally called “the universe.” We’ve learnt that we live in a solar system that is just one planetary system among billions, in one galaxy among billions. But there are signs that a further Copernican demotion confronts us. The entire panorama that astronomers can observe could be a tiny part of the aftermath of our Big Bang, which is itself just one bang among a potentially infinite ensemble. In this grander perspective, what we’ve traditionally called the laws of nature may be no more than parochial bylaws—local manifestations of “bedrock” laws that must be sought at a still deeper level.

Our cosmic environment could be richly textured, but on scales so vast that our purview is restricted to a tiny fragment. We’re not directly aware of the big picture, any more than a plankton whose universe is a litre of water would be aware of the world’s topography and biosphere. It is sensible for cosmologists to start off by exploring the simplest models. But there is no more reason to expect simplicity on the grandest scale than in the terrestrial environment, where intricate complexity prevails. It is exhilarating that this wonderful concept is now within the scope of scientific enquiry.

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