38

Let's start in the middle: What is the furthest radius we can prove from earth, with absolute certaintity, that the laws of physics do not vary? Zero. Proofs are found in mathematics and court rooms, and are impossible in natural science. The best we can do is have falsifiable theories. This holds for every description of reality - there's no "proof" ...


38

I think that your thought process is flawed in that you assume that by drastically increasing the temperature you are guaranteed to get heavy elements. As odd as this may sound, this isn't the case (especially during the Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN)) for a few reasons. In fact, if you took a hydrogen-only star and made it go supernova, you wouldn't get ...


34

I think the reason you're suffering from conflicting sources is that you're mixing both new and old, out-of-date pieces of information. First off, the book you cited was published in 2001 - 15 years ago - and the other article you cite was published in 1999 - 17 years ago. There's been a lot of work done in the past 15 years, often under the term "precision ...


27

All Conselice et al. (2016) appear to suggest is that when you look at something like the Hubble deep field, there are many faint (and presumably low mass) galaxies that are not seen. This has absolutely no effect on the need for dark matter. The main results are: (i) as you look back in time, the overall (co-moving) density of galaxies (more massive than a ...


23

Hot dark matter would be made from very light, fast moving particles. Such particles could not possibly be gravitationally bound to any structure, but rather would be dispersed all across the universe. But dark matter is always "found" (or "inferred") either gravitationally bound to some visible structure (e.g. weak lensing detection of dark matter ...


23

Nothing can be proved "with absolute certainty"; that is not how science works. We adopt a working hypothesis that the constants of nature are exactly that; both constant in time and space. Then we conduct experiments that attempt to falsify that hypothesis or at least place limits on by how much things might vary. For reasons that are explained in answers ...


22

The total entropy actually increases, as the molecular cloud shrinks under gravity. It may seem that as the molecules are getting closer, they are more ordered, which means less entropy. That is however only one part of the process. The second (important) part is: when the molecules are closer, they also have higher kinetic energy (since they descended into ...


20

TL; DR Somewhere between now and a few hundred billion years time. (For a co-moving volume) Now read on. If stellar remnants are included, then the answer is very far in the future indeed, if and when the constituents of baryons begin to decay. So let's assume that "stars" means those things that are undergoing nuclear fusion reactions to power their ...


19

The "Friedmann model" is a model of the Universe governed by the Friedmann equations, which describes how the Universe expands or contracts. These equations are a solution to Einstein's field equations, and with two very important assumptions they form the basis for our understanding of the evolution and structure of our Universe. These assumptions, together ...


18

Some additions to the answer of MBR: In fact, we do not know that dark matter and dark energy do exist, but we have indirect clues. You will often see claims that dark matter and dark energy are two of the major problems of cosmology today, including by professional astronomers, but this is an epistemological misconception: you cannot call a hypothesis a ...


16

The quasar gives out light in all directions. The light spreads out in space. Only a very small amount of that light would be pointed exactly in the direction of your telescope. But if a large galaxy or galaxy cluster is between the quasar and us, it bends some of the light towards us, making the quasar brighter (it would also distort the shape, but quasars ...


16

If you measure the gravitational waveform from an inspiralling binary, you can at any point measure the amplitude, instantaneous frequency and the rate of change of frequency. The last two give you the "chirp mass", which is related to the product and sum of the binary component masses. The amplitude of the gravitational wave then depends on the chirp mass ...


16

The friends-of-friends (FOF) algorithm (Huchra & Geller 1982; Press & Davis 1982, Davis et al. 1985) for finding groups of particles can be used for various numerical problems, not just cosmology, and linking lengths may vary between these problems. The larger the values you use for $b$ (the linking length in terms of the mean interparticle distance),...


15

The structure we see in the Universe has formed from the gravitational collapse of the matter that was once an almost smooth density field of gas ("baryons") and dark matter$^1$. The word "almost" is important here, for if it had been completely — or even non-completely but much more — smooth, then the collapse would not have had the time ...


15

To make a long story short, the measurements from Planck and the Hubble Space Telescope disagree, and the reason behind this isn't known. First, let's look at the values with the uncertainties. We then have three different results that are, perhaps, not as inconsistent as they originally seemed: $70.0^{+12.0}_{-8.0}\text{ km s}^{-1}\text{ Mpc}^{-1}$ from ...


15

The rough answer is: just like the sun makes it hard or impossible to see planets and stars during the day, it dominates the gravity sky. But there are interesting patterns there if we view the sky using a logarithmic scale. The above plots are a combination of the gravitational force of the sun, moon and planets, the stars in the Hipparchos catalog, the ...


15

The so-called 'mass gaps' for black holes, according to theoretical models, are between 2-5 solar masses and 50 to 150 solar masses. (Actually, I have read that there is no good theoretical reason for the lower, 2 to 5 solar-mass gap....) The lower mass-gap is suspected observationally because we have yet to observe a neutron star with mass greater than ...


14

This is a great question. I know of a couple of really big things about inflation people want to be able to nail down by using the cosmic microwave background. The first is measuring what are known as E- and B- modes, which are the curl-free and divergence-free components to the modes of cmb radiation: Essentially, measuring large scale Gaussian B-modes ...


13

Before the evaporation of black holes that you mention, our universe will enter what is known as the Black Hole Era. About $10^{40}$ years from now, all the protons and neutrons in the universe will have decayed into positrons and neutrinos. This is how the last of the planets will pass away. The Black Hole Era is so named because at this point only black ...


13

I don't take this at face value because we should expect more distant objects to have higher observed speeds and therefore higher observed red-shifts. That's true. That was the original Hubble discovery - the farther away things were, the faster they were moving away from us. Here's why. Let's start with a model where the Universe expanded very ...


13

Gravity is a fictitious force, actually, much like centrifugal force. In a free falling frame of reference it disappears. In general relativity (GR) gravity is just a result of (differential) geometry: space-time curvature. The inverse square law is just the low energy approximation, but the actual equation for gravity derived from GR is more complex than ...


13

Prior to Einstein's 1905 paper, the Lorentz transformation had already been worked out by Lorentz and others. Only their interpretation of it was lacking. They still clung to the idea that there was a Newtonian absolute time, and the times in the Lorentz transform were only apparent times. Einstein was the first to realize that there doesn't need to be a ...


13

tl;dr Because space doesn't contract inside our Solar System. Wavelength increase is proportional to space expansion The prediction of general relativity — one of the most thoroughly tested and succesful theories — is that the wavelength of observed light changes in proportion to the factor by which space expands (Lemaître 1927). If space expands by a ...


12

Cosmological parameters are measured in a variety of ways, and their values will depend on which measurements you trust the most. The paper you link to (Planck Collaboration et al. 2016) with the 2015 results from the Planck observations of the cosmic microwave background is probably the one that most people will accept, but even in that paper you will find ...


12

We can currently only detect gravitational radiation when it is extremely intense: in the last fraction of a second. For example the first gravitational wave detection lasted less 0.15 seconds. The black holes are releasing gravitational radiation with every orbit, but that radiation is too weak for us to detect. It takes a colossal amount of energy being ...


11

White holes are a theoretical construction of General Relativity. Despite extensive searches, nothing has been found: not a supermassive white hole, not a stellar-sized white hole, nothing. Thus, the answer to your question is: on our current knowledge, they don't exist anywhere. It is unclear how could they be formed. The geometry of the Kerr-solution (i....


11

The basic assumptions of the cosmological principle mean that space can only have constant scalar curvature. This can be positive, negative or zero and a flat Universe is one where the curvature is zero. The curvature of space is something that can be measured and the current value is known to be close to zero, not just from BOOMERanG, but from subsequent ...


11

What are the major assumptions and other measurements that went into these error bars? The error bars in the paper are based on the shortest reasonable distance (to the authors) between the source and the Earth and a zero to ten second lag between gravity wave emission and gamma ray emission. One key assumption is how long it took for the two signals, ...


10

When you say "particle" candidates, I assume you're excluding MACHOs and RAMBOs. MACHOs are "dark" objects at the stellar scale like black holes, neutron stars, brown dwarfs, etc. RAMBOs are clusters of similar dark objects. MACHOs and RAMBOs are made of primarily baryonic matter (everyday stuff like protons and neutrons — electrons are not baryons but ...


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