All About Space


Our universe had its origin in the Big Bang, approximately 13.8 billion years ago. All the matter we now see spread out over millions of light years was concentrated into a tiny, unimaginably dense point, smaller than the smallest subatomic particle. From that minuscule beginning it rapidly expanded in size, eventually forming the stars and galaxies we see today.

This picture will be familiar enough to anyone who keeps up with modern science. But it begs the question: what happened before that? Was the Big Bang really the beginning of everything, or just the start of the current phase in the life of the universe? If there were previous phases, what were they like? As reasonable as these questions sound, they’re incredibly difficult to answer because they push science to its absolute limits, both observationally and theoretically, and different scientists give very different answers. The problem is there’s no consensus as to what happened at the moment of the Big Bang.

There’s agreement on many points, though – such as the notion that the entire visible universe was originally compressed into a superdense ‘primeval atom’. This picture originated with the Belgian astronomer-priest Georges Lemaître in the 1920s.

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