Australian Researchers Claim to Map Comprehensive View of Universe’s History

Australian researchers say they have produced the most comprehensive view of the history of the universe to date. An Australian National University team says their study offers new ideas about how the universe might have started.

The research team says the study’s aim was to understand the origins of all the objects in the universe.

The U.S. space agency, NASA, says the universe “includes all of space, and all the matter and energy that space contains. It even includes time itself and, of course, it includes you.”

NASA adds that “the Milky Way is but one of billions of galaxies in the observable universe — all of them, including our own, are thought to have supermassive black holes at their centers.”

The Australian team says it has created the most comprehensive chart ever created of the history of the universe.

The lead author is honorary associate professor Charley Lineweaver. He said that when the universe began 13.8 billion years ago in a hot big bang, there were no objects, such as protons, atoms, people, planets, stars or galaxies.

The authors say the charts provide new ideas about how the universe came into being.

The first shows temperature and density of the universe as it expanded and cooled. The second plots the mass and size of all objects in the universe. The ANU researchers say the study suggests the universe may have started as what is known as an instanton, which has a specific size and mass, rather than a singularity, which they say is a hypothetical point of infinite density and temperature. Put simply, this would mean that at its beginning the universe may have been finite, and not infinite, in size. This is important because researchers say that what lies beyond the boundary of the universe is “also a major mystery.”

Lineweaver told VOA that mapping the universe will boost our understanding of it.

“When you extrapolate in so many different ways it gives you just a lay of the land that I just think is a beautiful way of understanding the universe,” he said. “If there is one way to understand the Big Bang it started out hot and dense and it got cooler and less dense, and as it did that particles and objects of all kinds condensed out of this hot, dense background. And understanding that is something that we should all make an attempt to do that because that is probably the most profound underlying theme of the history of the universe.”

Lineweaver also said he believes that research into the origins of the universe could help to answer some fundamental scientific questions about life beyond Earth.

“How did we get here? So, I am kind of semi-obsessed with the big picture of life on Earth and what it means and whether we are alone or not and so I have been writing quite a few things about that,” he said. “The basic idea is, well, if we can figure out how we got here, maybe we can make better guesses about whether other life forms have evolved elsewhere.”

The Australian National University study is published in the latest issue of The American Journal of Physics. 

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