Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Big Post-Big Bang Big Bang

Astronomers (with the help of NASA’s Swift satellite) have seen the most distant object ever recorded in space—the gamma ray burst from an exploding star thirteen billion light-years away. For those of you who are slow on the uptake, the distance of the explosion isn’t as significant as the time frame it represents, since we’re now seeing a stellar event from thirteen billion years ago. That’s just 630 million years after the Big Bang itself, and it shows us that even the early universe was probably full of stars and possibly even galaxies. Why do we care? Because knowing how long it takes for complex structures to form in the universe gives us a better idea of just what’s out there and what it’s been up to all these years. As always, though, there’s another possible explanation—that this “explosion” is really just God poking a thumbtack through the black paper dome that covers our flat Earth. Though only one of these hypotheses is likely. More details here.

Blog Archive