Reasons to Believe

Watching the Universe Grow Up

by Dr. Jeff Zweerink and Dr. Hugh Ross

Among the vast expanses of the cosmos, humanity resides on an amazing planet with remarkable conditions for observing the birth and expansion of the universe. It seems as though a purposeful Designer has allowed human civilization and technology to develop so that the Designer's work can be studied in exquisite detail.

Thanks to new instruments that provide breakthroughs in understanding, scientists can test the validity of various origin-of-the-universe models. RTB's cosmic creation model, a big bang model, states that the universe began in a hot, uniform state. It then cooled down, eventually forming the stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies observed today. The latest images (left) from the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) affirm this picture of an immature universe that "grows up" over time. Images of galaxy clusters as they appear a couple billion light years ago show signs of their great age-a high degree of symmetry, many old stars, few galaxy interactions, and lots of clustering.

Images (right) from the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF), showing galaxies from 7-13 billion years ago, look remarkably different. Galaxies are noticeably more ragged, more dispersed, and more uniformly distributed; they are dominated by younger stars and show frequent interactions-all signs of immaturity and of a much smaller, more densely packed cosmos.

Two more snapshots of the universe come from the cosmic microwave background (CMB, lower left)1 and a particular class of galaxies (red luminous galaxies or RLGs, lower right)2 These two images show how dramatically the universe changed between 380,000 thousands years and 10 billion years after the creation of the universe. Comparing the clumpiness of the universe at these two epochs provides compelling evidence that dark matter and dark energy-features predicted by RTB's model-dominate the dynamics of the universe. The spatial distribution of the RLGs also establishes that the fluctuations of the CMB grew through straightforward gravitational interactions to form the galaxies and clusters of galaxies observed today. All this evidence strengthens RTB's creation model and testifies of a supernatural Creator who has left unmistakable cosmic fingerprints for humans to discover.

References

  1. C. L. Bennett et al., "First-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Preliminary Maps and Basic Results," Astrophysical Journal Supplement 148 (2003): 1-27.
  2. Daniel J. Eisenstein et al., "Detection of the Baryon Acoustic Peak in the Large-Scale Correlation Function of SDSS Luminous Red Galaxies," Astrophysical Journal 633 (2005): 560-74.

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Portraits of Maturity. The Hubble Space Telescope captures signs of age in the Abell 1689 Galaxy Cluster, located about 2 billion light years away from Earth. The image records how the cluster looked 2 billion years ago-or, more than 11 billion years after the big bang.

Six representative galaxies from Abell 1689 show maturity in several ways: a high degree of symmetry, preponderance of older, red stars, and few galaxy interactions.

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Youthful Impressions. This section of the Hubble Ultra Deep Field (HUDF) image contains over 2,500 galaxies (only one star is visible). Observers can now see galaxies (over 13 billion light years away) as they appeared less than 1 billion years after the big bang creation event.

Irregular shapes and a wide range of star colors characterize the images from the HUDF. These galaxies contrast remarkably with those from Abell 1689, revealing an era when structure and order were just beginning to emerge in the universe.

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Baby Pictures. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) as measured by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite presents a picture of the universe when it was only 380,000 years old-the oldest possible picture that can be obtained using electromagnetic radiation.

Detailed analysis of the clumpiness (shown here as a multipole spectrum) seen in the CMB allows scientists to measure numerous cosmological parameters such as the curvature of space, the baryon density (density of protons and neutrons) and the exotic matter density. The large peak confirms that space is very nearly flat. The ratio of the second peak to the large peak measures the baryon density of the universe. The third peak shows the amount of exotic matter. All measured parameters confirm the hot big bang picture and, consequently, RTB's biblical creation model.

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Confirming Snapshots. A small section (1/5000th) of the first image taken by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) heralds more confirming evidence. When complete this survey will image more than one million galaxies and over 100,000 quasars in one quarter of the sky. Scientists have constructed a three-dimensional sky map using these images and the measured distances to these objects. Using a particular subset of red luminous galaxies (RLGs), the SDSS team measured the baryon peak, corresponding to the second peak from the WMAP data, as it appeared 10 billion years after the big bang.

Quantifying the spatial correlations of the RLGs provides a spectrum (shown above) similar to that produced by the WMAP project. The peak in the spectrum gives "smoking gun" evidence that the clumpiness seen in the WMAP data grows into the galaxies and galaxy clusters imaged by SDSS by straightforward gravitational processes, as predicted by big bang models. Further, the height and sharpness of the peak provides independent confirmation of the amount of exotic matter in the universe as well as of the existence of space energy density (or dark energy).

Subjects: Astronomy and the Bible, Big Bang, Origin of the Universe, Universe Design

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. Read more about Dr. Hugh Ross.