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Galaxy NGC4414 from HST Astronomy 162:
Introduction to Stars, Galaxies, & the Universe
Prof. Richard Pogge, MTWThF 9:30

Colorized pseudo-medieval depiction of the heavens based on
an original woodcut by Camille Flammarion 1888
[Citation: Not a medieval woodcut...]

Unit 5
"The Machinery of Night":
The Evolving Universe

Having completed our exploration of the Realm of the Galaxies, we turn our attention of the Universe itself. We will start with an overview of the modern theory of space, time, and gravity developed at the beginning of the 20th century by Albert Einstein. Special and General Relativity mark an important point of departure from the Newtonian world view in which space and time are absolute constructs, to one in which which all physical phenomena (including gravity) are played out against a background of spacetime. General Relativity, which predicted such exotic objects as black holes, makes the most astounding prediction of all: the entire Universe must be dynamic and evolving.

We will then trace the discovery of the expanding Universe from Edwin Hubble's observation of the expanding Universe to the realization that in the distant past all matter in the Universe must have been in an initially hot, dense state quite unlike the cold, nearly empty Universe we observe today. The "Big Bang" is the metaphorical name we give for our model of the evolution of the present Universe from this initially hot, dense state. We will then look at the observational evidence that gives us such great confidence in the Big Bang model of the Universe, and some of the surprising implications of these data. This unit ends with a discussion of what we think are the possible fates of the Universe.


A Tale of Two World Views: Special Relativity (Feb 20)

Space, Time & Gravity: General Relativity (Feb 21)

Einstein's Universe (Feb 22)

The Expanding Universe (Feb 23)

The Cosmic Distance Scale (Feb 24)

The Big Bang (Feb 27)

The Whispers of Creation (Feb 28)

"The First Three Minutes" (Mar 1)

"This is the way the world ends..."; The Fate of the Universe (Mar 2)

Quiz 4: Friday, March 3 (in class)
Lecture Podcasts Lecture Audio Podcasts

Associated Readings in Universe are listed at the top of each of the lectures.

[ Return to Astronomy 162 Main Page | Go back to Unit 4 | Go forward to Unit 6 ]
Updated: 2006 March 4
Copyright Richard W. Pogge, All Rights Reserved.