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Q & A: Trying to see the Big Bang!

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Most recent answer: 05/11/2009
Q:
I was wondering, with respect to stars visible with the naked eye, where in the night sky do I have to look to look directly at the location of the Big Bang? If the Hubble can see back to less than a billion years after the event, we must know right where it happened, or at least close enough for my eyes!
- Ben (age 30)
Peoria, IL, USA
A:
Hi Ben,      The Big Bang, thought to have happened 13.7 billion years ago, was not a localized event.  It occurred at all points in space at the same time.  So you really can't point to a specific location.
What did it look like?   It was hot, hotter that white hot.  As the universe expanded the material which was a super hot gas started to cool down.  By and by, due to gravitational forces, the material started forming little clumps, then bigger clumps, then stars, planets and galaxies.  The objects you can see with the naked eye are mainly in our local solar system, the sun, planets, asteroids, and comets,  or stars in our local galaxy, the Milky Way. If you look carefully you can see a few nearby galaxies, like the Andromeda.  But there are untold billions of other galaxies that you need a telescope to see.    There are remnants of the original Big Bang left over however you need special instruments in order to see them.  The universe has expanded so much that the wavelength of the original light has been red-shifted to microwave frequencies, now called the Cosmic Microwave Background.  Take a look at:


LeeH

(published on 05/11/2009)

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