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Prepared by Dr. Abhijit Kar Gupta, Physics Department, Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg.abhi@gmail.


The Big Bang Theory and the Origin of Earth
General Introduction Where we are, how big are we?

We are on Earth which is around 150 million km away from the Sun. (Note: 1 million = 1000,000 = 10 lakhs) Light travels at nearly 300, 000 km in 1 second. So the light from the Sun takes a little more than 8 minutes to reach us. The furthest object in our solar system is Pluto (no more a planet) which is around 6000 million km away from the Sun and the sunlight takes nearly 5 and ½ hours to reach Pluto. The time taken by light to come to Earth from other nearby stars is of the order of a few years. So the light from the stars that we see on the sky are really many years old. The distances among the stars are so great that it is useful consider the unit of ‘light year’ which is the distance covered by light in one year. Our Sun (and the solar system) is a member of a bigger system, the Milky Way Galaxy. There are approximately 100,000 million other stars in this galaxy. In fact, our Sun is only a very ordinary star; there are many massive stars, much bigger than the Sun in Milky Way. The Sun lies at a distance of about 30,000 light years from the centre of the Milky Way galaxy, around one third of the dimension of the galaxy. Our galaxy is not even a special one! It is estimated that there are 3000 million other galaxies in the universe that could be searched so far. The dimension of our universe is around 10,000 million light years. Time scales and Masses are also equally enormous. Our earth takes a year to complete one trip round the sun. The Jupiter takes 12 years. The Sun and other stars are also orbiting around the centre of the galaxy. They take around 200 million years to complete one trip round the galactic centre. Mass can be so enormous that the masses of stars and even bigger objects are not measured in kg or other known units. The unit that is used is one solar mass. If a star is two times heavier than the Sun, for example, it is called 2 solar mass etc.
Everyone is born and everyone dies: 1

in a star ends up at a time and then the inside core of it shrinks under gravitational pull and the outside core expands so much that it appears to be a giant and red coloured star. the massive stars shrink so much at the end of life. the living beings.4 times the solar mass. can become a ‘supernova’. the rocks. The inside core may become white dwarf or neutron star. protons etc. The thermonuclear reaction (nuclear fusion) in a star ends one day and the star approaches ‘death’. It can not hold the force of gravitation any more by generating heat and radiation pressure. More massive stars (mass greater than the Chandrasekhar limit) become something called ‘Black Holes’. the density becomes so unimaginably high under its own gravitational pull that even the light can not get out of it. when it reaches the end of its nuclear fuel. Physics Department. the elements. the stars and the galaxies. The death of a star is inevitable. The nuclear fuel. This is a possible source of Cosmic Rays. But the tremendously exploding envelope carries huge amount of energies and very fast moving particles like electrons. Introduction: Big Bang Theory 2 .com) Everything has a life cycle of its own. Supernova: Sometimes a massive star. A supernova arises when the core of the star collapses under its own gravitational attraction. the planets. The star then contracts under its own gravitation until the matter in the inner core gets highly compressed. Abhijit Kar Gupta. mainly hydrogen and helium.Prepared by Dr. A smaller star (mass less than 1. The life cycle of a star is amazingly interesting and this is of great concern to the scientists as the study of the universe and its structure is connected to this. They are then called ‘Neutron Star’.abhi@gmail. in its life cycle. releasing huge amount of energy (shock waves) which causes the outer core to explode. becomes something called ‘White Dwarf’ when it exhausts all its nuclear fuel. called ‘red giant’ star. Later on these white dwarfs become neutron rich (no atoms can exist at extremely high pressure and temperature). This will of course take many thousand million years. Our sun will also become a red giant one day. Black holes are nearly impossible to detect as no electromagnetic radiation can come out them. Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg. called ‘Chandrasekhar limit’)). its brightness will increase so much and its outer core radius will become so large that it will swallow the planets Mercury and Venus and possibly the Earth.

The Big Bang theory is an effort to explain what happened at the very beginning of our universe. All we know is that we exist inside the universe. The space. Physics Department. It also tries to explain what happened during and immediately after the beginning. in fact. It is not static. 1 million year = 1000. 1 billion years = 1000. is different from what it was in the past and it will be different in the future. [Note: 1 billion year = 1000 million year.000 years = 100 crores years. Abhijit Kar Gupta. as we see. or energy everything was created with Big Bang. there was nothing. has a beginning as the discoveries in Astronomy and Astrophysics and mathematical calculations have established that beyond doubt.] The Big Bang theory tells us that our Universe originated from a ‘singularity’. Thus. Hubble made the observation that the universe is continuously expanding.abhi@gmail. The Universe today.our universe. during and after that moment there was something . Where did our Universe come from? We don't know. Prior to the moment of creation. Around 15-20 billion years ago a tremendous explosion started the expansion of the universe.Prepared by Dr. Where it is? We don’t know. The Big Bang Theory: Infinitely hot matter of infinite density was thought to be concentrated in an infinitesimally small volume (a point) at the moment of the creation of the universe. The study of the creation of Universe and the properties of early universe (immediately after the Big Bang) is called Cosmology.000 year = 10 lakh years. The Big Bang theory is the scientific theory of the creation of the Universe. Matter was created out of Big Bang and energy propagated at the speed of light (300. This explosion is known as Big Bang.000. time. The temperature of the universe just 3 . The origin of the Big Bang theory can be credited to Edwin Hubble (1889-1953). Singularity is a concept (a mathematical concept) which defies our understanding of physical reality and imagination! What existed prior to the moment of Big Bang is completely unknown and is a matter of pure speculation. Why did it appear? We don't know. Our universe.000 meter per second).000. Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg.

Since the Big after a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang explosion was of the order of 1000 trillion degree Centigrade (1 trillion = 1000 billion) as estimated. and within a few minutes these particles stuck together to form atomic nuclei.such as quarks and photons. These microwaves were remarkably uniform which illustrated the homogeneity of the early stages of the universe." named after Edwin Hubble. As the universe quickly expanded. About one ten-thousandth of a second after the Big Bang.Prepared by Dr. the abundance of the "light elements" Hydrogen and Helium found in the observable universe are thought to support the Big Bang model of origins. galaxies etc. Finally. According to Newton’s law of gravitation. NASAs COBE satellite was able to detect cosmic microwaves emanating from the outer reaches of the universe. the universe has been continuously expanding and. Hundreds of thousands of years later. The force is less as the distance between two objects is more. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered Cosmic Microwave Background radiation (CMB). The force of attraction among the heavenly bodies like starts. there has been more and more distance between clusters of galaxies. This observation supports the expansion of the universe and suggests that the universe was once compacted. Even more recently. earth attracts us with a big force and that is why we fall down towards the earth and not go up easily. the force of attraction is more if one of the bodies or both are big enough. The evidences supporting the Big Bang theory: • • • • Experimental observations reveal that the galaxies appear to be moving away from us at speeds proportional to their distance (This is called "Hubble's Law. In 1965. planets. which seems to be coming from the farthest reaches of the universe and that is supposed to be left over from the Big Bang. is called GRAVITATION. electrons stuck to the nuclei to make complete atoms. This phenomenon of galaxies moving farther away from each other is known as the red shift. Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg. Physics Department. we should be able to find some remnant of this heat.abhi@gmail. Abhijit Kar Gupta.). Force between two objects is proportional to the product of the 4 . Universe back then was too hot for anything other than the most fundamental particles -. it had also undergone a rapid cooling enabling the creation of matter from energy. However. Gravitational force acts between any two objects or particles (no matter how small or big) in the universe. thus. If the universe was initially extremely hot as the Big Bang suggests. For example. protons and neutrons formed. mostly hydrogen and helium.

com) masses of two bodies and inversely proportional to the square of the distance. An astronomical unit is defined as the average distance between the Sun and Earth. The middle of this spinning disk further condensed to eventually form the Sun at the center of the solar system. The nebula continued to contract under the influence of gravity causing it to spin faster. the faster it rotated due to the conservation of angular momentum. As the cloud compressed on itself. Astronomers have used the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories to discover similar nebular clouds where new stars and possibly planets appear to be in the process of being created. this nebular cloud began to collapse inward. Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg. Physics Department. they all rotate in the same direction that was induced on 5 . which is based on a related explanation called the nebular theory. Astronomers estimate that the nebular cloud from which our solar system was formed. As these planetoids collided. This massive loosely-bound cloud of dust. This mighty explosion sends most of the star's mass outward into space as a massive wave of debris.abhi@gmail. Abhijit Kar Gupta. The rate of contraction was greatest near the center of the cloud where a dense central core began to form.Prepared by Dr. As the rate of rotation of the nebula continued to increase. Because the Sun and planets all formed from the same nebular cloud. ice particles. How the Solar system was formed? The leading hypothesis to explain how the solar system formed is called the condensation theory. and gases (primarily hydrogen and helium) had some small rate of rotation due to the method in which it was formed. or about 150 million km. the gravitational attraction of the matter within increased and pulled the material in even further. Over time. The material spinning around this new star also condensed into several large chunks of material called planetoids. they coalesced into larger bodies to form the planets that exist today. These clouds typically form during the death of a giant star when it becomes supernova. The collapse may have itself been triggered by a supernova that sent shockwaves through the cloud causing it to compress. The nebular cloud from which our solar system formed may have accumulated from one or more stars that went supernova billions of years ago. The more the cloud contracted. centrifugal effects caused the spinning cloud to flatten into a disk with a bulge at its center. contained about two to three times the mass of the Sun and was about 100 astronomical units (AU) across. What is a Nebula? A nebula is a large cloud of gas and dust that exists in the depths of interstellar space.

Prepared by Dr. Only a few exceptions to this explanation can be found in the solar system. it is believed that large collisions with other large bodies during the formation of the solar system may account for the unusual characteristics of these planets. The planet Venus actually rotates clockwise around its axis in what is called a retrograde motion. The initial collapse of solar nebula is supposed to take less than 100. This cloud turned slowly around itself. Uranus is also in an unusual orientation since the world is tilted on its side with its north and south poles in about the same plane as the planet's orbit around the Sun. further supporting the formation theory described above. Physics Department. was disturbed by the shock wave coming from a nearby supernova. Kant believed that a huge cloud of meteorites existed at the beginning of our solar system. The cloud then collapsed under its own gravitational attraction and the sun was formed in the central region. smaller mass-centres which started to rotate around the sun – they are the planets.000 years. The age of formation of solar system is estimated to be little more than 4.1804) put up a theory which is believed to be the oldest meteorite theory. Abhijit Kar Gupta. Through their attraction under each other the meteorites started to form a mass-centre.5 billion years. Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg. The planets were formed from the outer regions of the accretion disk. but the Sun and nearly all the planets rotate counter-clockwise about their axes. called solar nebula. Through this circling the cloud got a disc shape. Two older theories of origin of solar system: The meteorite theory of Immanuel Kant : The German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724 . In some distance from the sun there some other. Then it became so hot through contractions that it started to glow. While the reasons for these eccentricities are unknown.abhi@gmail. The Nebular theory of Laplace : 6 . In Short: • • • • A massive cloud. Tiny Pluto is also tilted on its side and is the only planet with an orbit considerably outside of the ecliptic plane. The solar equator and the plane containing the orbits of the planets are also nearly identical. Not only do the planets all rotate counter-clockwise around the Sun. That could have been the birth of the the disk of material as it coalesced.

the Earth's surface was originally molten.Sc. Through this the gravitation of the particles got big enough and formed a discus-shaped ‘pre-sun’. Through further condensing. Earth’s atmosphere and early life: The Earth’s atmosphere was not like this as it is now. What is a meteorite? A meteorite is a natural object originating somewhere in outer space. as it cooled the volcanoes ejected huge amounts of Carbon Dioxide. This lecture note.55 billion years old. So the more the gas cloud condenses. When it enters the atmosphere. Meteorites created at the same time as the Earth hit us all the time. Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg. Vidyasagar 7 . It started to condense while it cooled off. Laplace believed that in the beginning there was a huge cloud of hot gas which rotated slowly. the hotter the centre became and the faster became the rotation speeds. What is the age of Earth? Throughout this century the race has been on to discover the oldest rocks in the world. Such early forms of life existed in the shallow oceans close to thermal sources. Because of this his theory is also known as the Kant-Laplace Nebular The French mathematician Pierre Simon Marquis de Laplace (1749 .8 billion years ago so this means that life came into existence about 700 million years after the Earth was created. Physics Department. impact pressure causes the body to heat up and emit light. so a ring would detach itself.1872) developed the ideas of Kant further. which were reservoirs of heat and minerals. but this is not the whole story. thus forming a fireball – we call it meteor or shooting star.abhi@gmail. The oldest volcanic rock found so far has been dated at 3. Because of this the centrifugal force becamee stronger than the gravitational pull. meant for the non-specialists. The compositions were different. has been prepared for the M. During the first billion years. Because of the different attractions of the particles in the ring it would tear apart and from the different pieces.Prepared by Dr. We often see an impact of such objects with the Earth’s atmosphere and earth’s surface. ammonia and methane. steam. the centre of the pre-sun became hot again and the rotation speed became faster.75 billion years old. radioactive dating shows that they are about 4. Geography students (Distance Education course. Evidence points to bacteria flourishing 3. the planets would form that are still circling the sun. There was no Oxygen! The steam condensed to form water which then produced oceans. Abhijit Kar Gupta.

Abhijit Kar Gupta.geosc. http://eqseis. The Structure of the Universe – Jayant Narlikar (Oxford University Press) 2.umich.html s/earth_origin_lecture.thinkquest.eiu.html http://www.psu. Physics Department.ux1. West University.html 5.html 8. This is compiled from the following books and websites: 1.htm 4.nineplanets.abhi@gmail. http://library. http://en.Prepared by Panskura Banamali College (e-mail: kg. http://www. India).org/wiki/Nebula 8 .htm 3. http://www.wikipedia.