Physical cosmology

Physical cosmology

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Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe
Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...

 and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics
Metaphysics
Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy concerned with explaining the fundamental nature of being and the world, although the term is not easily defined. Traditionally, metaphysics attempts to answer two basic questions in the broadest possible terms:...

 and religion
Religion
Religion is a collection of cultural systems, belief systems, and worldviews that establishes symbols that relate humanity to spirituality and, sometimes, to moral values. Many religions have narratives, symbols, traditions and sacred histories that are intended to give meaning to life or to...

. Cosmology
Cosmology
Cosmology is the discipline that deals with the nature of the Universe as a whole. Cosmologists seek to understand the origin, evolution, structure, and ultimate fate of the Universe at large, as well as the natural laws that keep it in order...

 as a science
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 originated with the Copernican principle
Copernican principle
In physical cosmology, the Copernican principle, named after Nicolaus Copernicus, states that the Earth is not in a central, specially favored position. More recently, the principle has been generalized to the relativistic concept that humans are not privileged observers of the universe...

, which implies that celestial bodies obey identical physical law
Physical law
A physical law or scientific law is "a theoretical principle deduced from particular facts, applicable to a defined group or class of phenomena, and expressible by the statement that a particular phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions be present." Physical laws are typically conclusions...

s to those on Earth, and Newtonian mechanics, which first allowed us to understand those laws.

Physical cosmology, as it is now understood, began with the twentieth century development of Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

's general theory of relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

 and better astronomical
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 observations of extremely distant objects. These advances made it possible to speculate about the origin of the universe, and allowed scientists to establish the Big Bang Theory as the leading cosmological model. Some researchers still advocate a handful of alternative cosmologies
Non-standard cosmology
A non-standard cosmology is any physical cosmological model of the universe that has been, or still is, proposed as an alternative to the big bang model of standard physical cosmology...

; however, cosmologists generally agree that the Big Bang theory best explains observations.

Cosmology draws heavily on the work of many disparate areas of research in physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

. Areas relevant to cosmology include particle physics experiments
Particle physics experiments
Particle physics experiments briefly discusses a number of past, present, and proposed experiments with particle accelerators, throughout the world. In addition, some important accelerator interactions are discussed...

 and theory
Particle physics phenomenology
Particle physics phenomenology is the part of theoretical particle physics that deals with the application of theory to high-energy particle physics experiments. Within the Standard Model, phenomenology is the calculating of detailed predictions for experiments, usually at high precision...

, including string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

, astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

, general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

, and plasma physics. Thus, cosmology unites the physics of the largest structures in the universe with the physics of the smallest structures in the universe.

History of physical cosmology


Modern cosmology developed along tandem tracks of theory and observation. In 1915, Albert Einstein formulated his theory of general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

, which provided a unified description of gravity as a geometric property of space and time. At the time, physicists believed in a perfectly static universe
Static universe
A static universe, also referred to as a "stationary" or "Einstein" universe, is a model in which space is neither expanding nor contracting. Albert Einstein proposed such a model as his preferred cosmology in 1917...

 that had no beginning or end. Einstein added a cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...

 to his theory in order to force it to model a static universe containing matter. This so-called Einstein universe is, however, unstable; it will eventually start expanding
Metric expansion of space
The metric expansion of space is the increase of distance between distant parts of the universe with time. It is an intrinsic expansion—that is, it is defined by the relative separation of parts of the universe and not by motion "outward" into preexisting space...

 or contracting. The cosmological solutions of general relativity were found by Alexander Friedmann, whose equations describe the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker universe, which may expand or contract.

In the 1910s, Vesto Slipher (and later Carl Wilhelm Wirtz
Carl Wilhelm Wirtz
Carl Wilhelm Wirtz was an astronomer who spent his time between Germany and the Observatory of Strasbourg....

) interpreted the red shift
Red shift
-Science:* Redshift, the increase of wavelength of detected electromagnetic radiation with respect to the original wavelength of the emission* Red shift, an informal term for a bathochromic shift...

 of spiral nebulae
Nebula
A nebula is an interstellar cloud of dust, hydrogen gas, helium gas and other ionized gases...

 as a Doppler shift that indicated they were receding from Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

. However, it is difficult to determine the distance to astronomical objects. One way is to compare the physical size of an object to its angular size, but a physical size must be assumed to do this. Another method is to measure the brightness
Brightness
Brightness is an attribute of visual perception in which a source appears to be radiating or reflecting light. In other words, brightness is the perception elicited by the luminance of a visual target...

 of an object and assume an intrinsic luminosity
Luminosity
Luminosity is a measurement of brightness.-In photometry and color imaging:In photometry, luminosity is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to luminance, which is the density of luminous intensity in a given direction. The SI unit for luminance is candela per square metre.The luminosity function...

, from which the distance may be determined using the inverse square law. Due to the difficulty of using these methods, they did not realize that the nebulae were actually galaxies outside our own Milky Way
Milky Way
The Milky Way is the galaxy that contains the Solar System. This name derives from its appearance as a dim un-resolved "milky" glowing band arching across the night sky...

, nor did they speculate about the cosmological implications. In 1927, the Belgian
Belgium
Belgium , officially the Kingdom of Belgium, is a federal state in Western Europe. It is a founding member of the European Union and hosts the EU's headquarters, and those of several other major international organisations such as NATO.Belgium is also a member of, or affiliated to, many...

 Roman Catholic priest
Priest
A priest is a person authorized to perform the sacred rites of a religion, especially as a mediatory agent between humans and deities. They also have the authority or power to administer religious rites; in particular, rites of sacrifice to, and propitiation of, a deity or deities...

 Georges Lemaître
Georges Lemaître
Monsignor Georges Henri Joseph Édouard Lemaître was a Belgian priest, astronomer and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Louvain. He was the first person to propose the theory of the expansion of the Universe, widely misattributed to Edwin Hubble...

 independently derived the Friedmann-Lemaître-Robertson-Walker equations and proposed, on the basis of the recession of spiral nebulae, that the universe began with the "explosion" of a "primeval atom
Atom
The atom is a basic unit of matter that consists of a dense central nucleus surrounded by a cloud of negatively charged electrons. The atomic nucleus contains a mix of positively charged protons and electrically neutral neutrons...

"—which was later called the Big Bang. In 1929, Edwin Hubble
Edwin Hubble
Edwin Powell Hubble was an American astronomer who profoundly changed the understanding of the universe by confirming the existence of galaxies other than the Milky Way - our own galaxy...

 provided an observational basis for Lemaître's theory. Hubble showed that the spiral nebulae were galaxies by determining their distances using measurements of the brightness of Cepheid variable
Cepheid variable
A Cepheid is a member of a class of very luminous variable stars. The strong direct relationship between a Cepheid variable's luminosity and pulsation period, secures for Cepheids their status as important standard candles for establishing the Galactic and extragalactic distance scales.Cepheid...

 stars. He discovered a relationship between the redshift
Redshift
In physics , redshift happens when light seen coming from an object is proportionally increased in wavelength, or shifted to the red end of the spectrum...

 of a galaxy and its distance. He interpreted this as evidence that the galaxies are receding from Earth
Earth
Earth is the third planet from the Sun, and the densest and fifth-largest of the eight planets in the Solar System. It is also the largest of the Solar System's four terrestrial planets...

 in every direction at speeds directly proportional to their distance. This fact is now known as Hubble's law
Hubble's law
Hubble's law is the name for the astronomical observation in physical cosmology that: all objects observed in deep space are found to have a doppler shift observable relative velocity to Earth, and to each other; and that this doppler-shift-measured velocity, of various galaxies receding from...

, though the numerical factor Hubble found relating recessional velocity and distance was off by a factor of ten, due to not knowing at the time about different types of Cepheid variables.

Given the cosmological principle
Cosmological Principle
In modern physical cosmology, the cosmological principle is the working assumption that observers on Earth do not occupy an unusual or privileged location within the universe as a whole, judged as observers of the physical phenomena produced by uniform and universal laws of physics...

, Hubble's law suggested that the universe was expanding. There were two primary explanations put forth for the expansion of the universe. One was Lemaître's Big Bang theory, advocated and developed by George Gamow. The other possibility was Fred Hoyle's
Fred Hoyle
Sir Fred Hoyle FRS was an English astronomer and mathematician noted primarily for his contribution to the theory of stellar nucleosynthesis and his often controversial stance on other cosmological and scientific matters—in particular his rejection of the "Big Bang" theory, a term originally...

 steady state model in which new matter would be created as the galaxies moved away from each other. In this model, the universe is roughly the same at any point in time.

For a number of years the support for these theories was evenly divided. However, the observational evidence began to support the idea that the universe evolved from a hot dense state. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background in 1965 lent strong support to the Big Bang model, and since the precise measurements of the cosmic microwave background by the Cosmic Background Explorer in the early 1990s, few cosmologists have seriously proposed other theories of the origin and evolution of the cosmos. One consequence of this is that in standard general relativity, the universe began with a singularity
Gravitational singularity
A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system...

, as demonstrated by Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking
Stephen William Hawking, CH, CBE, FRS, FRSA is an English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, whose scientific books and public appearances have made him an academic celebrity...

 and Roger Penrose
Roger Penrose
Sir Roger Penrose OM FRS is an English mathematical physicist and Emeritus Rouse Ball Professor of Mathematics at the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College...

 in the 1960s.

Energy of the cosmos


Light elements, primarily hydrogen and helium, were created in the Big Bang
Big Bang
The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model that explains the early development of the Universe. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in...

. These light elements were spread too fast and too thinly in the Big Bang process (see nucleosynthesis
Nucleosynthesis
Nucleosynthesis is the process of creating new atomic nuclei from pre-existing nucleons . It is thought that the primordial nucleons themselves were formed from the quark–gluon plasma from the Big Bang as it cooled below two trillion degrees...

) to form the most stable medium-sized atomic nuclei, like iron and nickel. This fact allows for later energy release, as such intermediate-sized elements are formed in our era. The formation of such atoms powers the steady energy-releasing reactions in star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s, and also contributes to sudden energy releases, such as in nova
Nova
A nova is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion in a star caused by the accretion of hydrogen on to the surface of a white dwarf star, which ignites and starts nuclear fusion in a runaway manner...

e. Gravitational collapse of matter into black holes is also thought to power the most energetic processes, generally seen at the centers of galaxies (see quasar
Quasar
A quasi-stellar radio source is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than...

s and in general active galaxies).

Cosmologists are still unable to explain all cosmological phenomena purely on the basis of known conventional forms of energy, for example those related to the accelerating expansion of the universe
Accelerating universe
The accelerating universe is the observation that the universe appears to be expanding at an increasing rate, which in formal terms means that the cosmic scale factor a has a positive second derivative, implying that the velocity at which a given galaxy is receding from us should be continually...

, and therefore invoke a yet unexplored form of energy called dark energy
Dark energy
In physical cosmology, astronomy and celestial mechanics, dark energy is a hypothetical form of energy that permeates all of space and tends to accelerate the expansion of the universe. Dark energy is the most accepted theory to explain recent observations that the universe appears to be expanding...

 to account for certain cosmological observations. One hypothesis is that dark energy is the energy of virtual particle
Virtual particle
In physics, a virtual particle is a particle that exists for a limited time and space. The energy and momentum of a virtual particle are uncertain according to the uncertainty principle...

s (which mathematically must exist in vacuum due to the uncertainty principle
Uncertainty principle
In quantum mechanics, the Heisenberg uncertainty principle states a fundamental limit on the accuracy with which certain pairs of physical properties of a particle, such as position and momentum, can be simultaneously known...

).

There is no unambiguous way to define the total energy of the universe in the current best theory of gravity, general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

. As a result it remains controversial whether one can meaningfully say that total energy is conserved in an expanding universe. For instance, each photon
Photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

 that travels through intergalactic space loses energy due to the redshift
Redshift
In physics , redshift happens when light seen coming from an object is proportionally increased in wavelength, or shifted to the red end of the spectrum...

 effect. This energy is not obviously transferred to any other system, so seems to be permanently lost. Nevertheless some cosmologists insist that energy is conserved in some sense.

Thermodynamics of the universe
Thermodynamics of the universe
The thermodynamics of the universe is dictated by which form of energy dominates it - relativistic particles which are referred to as radiation, or non-relativistic particles which are referred to as matter...

 is a field of study to explore which form of energy dominates the cosmos - relativistic particle
Relativistic particle
A relativistic particle is a particle which moves with a relativistic speed; that is, a speed comparable to the speed of light. This is achieved by photons to the extent that effects described by special relativity are able to describe those of such particles themselves...

s which are referred to as radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

, or non-relativistic particles which are referred to as matter. The former are particles whose rest mass is zero or negligible compared to their energy, and therefore move at the speed of light or very close to it; the latter are particles whose kinetic energy
Kinetic energy
The kinetic energy of an object is the energy which it possesses due to its motion.It is defined as the work needed to accelerate a body of a given mass from rest to its stated velocity. Having gained this energy during its acceleration, the body maintains this kinetic energy unless its speed changes...

 is much lower than their rest mass and therefore move much slower than the speed of light.

As the universe expands, both matter and radiation in it become diluted. However, the universe also cools down, meaning that the average energy per particle is getting smaller with time. Therefore the radiation becomes weaker, and dilutes faster than matter. Thus with the expansion of the universe radiation becomes less dominant than matter. In the very early universe radiation dictates the rate of deceleration of the universe's expansion, and the universe is said to be 'radiation dominated'. At later times, when the average energy per photon
Photon
In physics, a photon is an elementary particle, the quantum of the electromagnetic interaction and the basic unit of light and all other forms of electromagnetic radiation. It is also the force carrier for the electromagnetic force...

 is roughly 10 eV
Electronvolt
In physics, the electron volt is a unit of energy equal to approximately joule . By definition, it is equal to the amount of kinetic energy gained by a single unbound electron when it accelerates through an electric potential difference of one volt...

 and lower, matter dictates the rate of deceleration and the universe is said to be 'matter dominated'. The intermediate case is not treated well analytically. As the expansion of the universe continues, matter dilutes even further and the cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...

 becomes dominant, leading to an acceleration in the universe's expansion.

History of the Universe



The history of the universe is a central issue in cosmology. The history of the universe is divided into different periods called epochs, according to the dominant forces and processes in each period. The standard cosmological model is known as the ΛCDM model.

Equations of motion



The equations of motion governing the universe as a whole are derived from general relativity
General relativity
General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

 with a small, positive cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...

. The solution is an expanding universe; due to this expansion the radiation and matter in the universe are cooled down and become diluted. At first, the expansion is slowed down by gravitation
Gravitation
Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

 due to the radiation
Radiation
In physics, radiation is a process in which energetic particles or energetic waves travel through a medium or space. There are two distinct types of radiation; ionizing and non-ionizing...

 and matter content of the universe. However, as these become diluted, the cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...

 becomes more dominant and the expansion of the universe starts to accelerate rather than decelerate. In our universe this has already happened, billions of years ago.

Particle physics in cosmology



Particle physics
Particle physics
Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the existence and interactions of particles that are the constituents of what is usually referred to as matter or radiation. In current understanding, particles are excitations of quantum fields and interact following their dynamics...

 is important to the behavior of the early universe, since the early universe was so hot that the average energy density was very high. Because of this, scattering
Scattering
Scattering is a general physical process where some forms of radiation, such as light, sound, or moving particles, are forced to deviate from a straight trajectory by one or more localized non-uniformities in the medium through which they pass. In conventional use, this also includes deviation of...

 processes and decay
Particle decay
Particle decay is the spontaneous process of one elementary particle transforming into other elementary particles. During this process, an elementary particle becomes a different particle with less mass and an intermediate particle such as W boson in muon decay. The intermediate particle then...

 of unstable particles are important in cosmology.

As a rule of thumb, a scattering or a decay process is cosmologically important in a certain cosmological epoch if the time scale describing that process is smaller or comparable to the time scale of the expansion of the universe, which is with being the Hubble constant at that time. This is roughly equal to the age of the universe at that time.

Timeline of the Big Bang



Observations suggest that the universe began around 13.7 billion years ago. Since then, the evolution of the universe has passed through three phases. The very early universe, which is still poorly understood, was the split second in which the universe was so hot that particles
Subatomic particle
In physics or chemistry, subatomic particles are the smaller particles composing nucleons and atoms. There are two types of subatomic particles: elementary particles, which are not made of other particles, and composite particles...

 had energies higher than those currently accessible in particle accelerator
Particle accelerator
A particle accelerator is a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in well-defined beams. An ordinary CRT television set is a simple form of accelerator. There are two basic types: electrostatic and oscillating field accelerators.In...

s on Earth. Therefore, while the basic features of this epoch have been worked out in the Big Bang theory, the details are largely based on educated guesses.
Following this, in the early universe, the evolution of the universe proceeded according to known high energy physics. This is when the first protons, electrons and neutrons formed, then nuclei and finally atoms. With the formation of neutral hydrogen, the cosmic microwave background was emitted. Finally, the epoch of structure formation began, when matter started to aggregate into the first star
Star
A star is a massive, luminous sphere of plasma held together by gravity. At the end of its lifetime, a star can also contain a proportion of degenerate matter. The nearest star to Earth is the Sun, which is the source of most of the energy on Earth...

s and quasar
Quasar
A quasi-stellar radio source is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than...

s, and ultimately galaxies, clusters of galaxies and supercluster
Supercluster
Superclusters are large groups of smaller galaxy groups and clusters and are among the largest known structures of the cosmos. They are so large that they are not gravitationally bound and, consequently, partake in the Hubble expansion.-Existence:...

s formed. The future of the universe is not yet firmly known, but according to the ΛCDM model it will continue expanding forever.

Areas of study


Below, some of the most active areas of inquiry in cosmology are described, in roughly chronological order. This does not include all of the Big Bang cosmology, which is presented in Timeline of the Big Bang
Timeline of the Big Bang
This timeline of the Big Bang describes the history of the universe according to the prevailing scientific theory of how the universe came into being, using the cosmological time parameter of comoving coordinates...

.

The very early universe


While the early, hot universe appears to be well explained by the Big Bang from roughly 10−33 seconds onwards, there are several problems. One is that there is no compelling reason, using current particle physics, to expect the universe to be flat
Shape of the Universe
The shape of the universe is a matter of debate in physical cosmology over the local and global geometry of the universe which considers both curvature and topology, though, strictly speaking, it goes beyond both...

, homogeneous and isotropic (see the cosmological principle
Cosmological Principle
In modern physical cosmology, the cosmological principle is the working assumption that observers on Earth do not occupy an unusual or privileged location within the universe as a whole, judged as observers of the physical phenomena produced by uniform and universal laws of physics...

). Moreover, grand unified theories of particle physics suggest that there should be magnetic monopole
Magnetic monopole
A magnetic monopole is a hypothetical particle in particle physics that is a magnet with only one magnetic pole . In more technical terms, a magnetic monopole would have a net "magnetic charge". Modern interest in the concept stems from particle theories, notably the grand unified and superstring...

s in the universe, which have not been found. These problems are resolved by a brief period of cosmic inflation
Cosmic inflation
In physical cosmology, cosmic inflation, cosmological inflation or just inflation is the theorized extremely rapid exponential expansion of the early universe by a factor of at least 1078 in volume, driven by a negative-pressure vacuum energy density. The inflationary epoch comprises the first part...

, which drives the universe to flatness
Flatness (cosmology)
The concept of "curvature of space" is fundamental to cosmology. A space without curvature is called a "flat space" or Euclidean space.Whether the universe is “flat″ could determine its ultimate fate; whether it will expand forever, or ultimately collapse back into itself. The geometry of spacetime...

, smooths out anisotropies and inhomogeneities to the observed level, and exponentially dilutes the monopoles. The physical model behind cosmic inflation is extremely simple, however it has not yet been confirmed by particle physics, and there are difficult problems reconciling inflation and quantum field theory
Quantum field theory
Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

. Some cosmologists think that string theory
String theory
String theory is an active research framework in particle physics that attempts to reconcile quantum mechanics and general relativity. It is a contender for a theory of everything , a manner of describing the known fundamental forces and matter in a mathematically complete system...

 and brane cosmology
Brane cosmology
Brane cosmology refers to several theories in particle physics and cosmology motivated by, but not exclusively derived from, superstring theory and M-theory.-Brane and bulk:...

 will provide an alternative to inflation.

Another major problem in cosmology is what caused the universe to contain more particles than antiparticles
Antimatter
In particle physics, antimatter is the extension of the concept of the antiparticle to matter, where antimatter is composed of antiparticles in the same way that normal matter is composed of particles...

. Cosmologists can observationally deduce that the universe is not split into regions of matter and antimatter. If it were, there would be X-ray
X-ray
X-radiation is a form of electromagnetic radiation. X-rays have a wavelength in the range of 0.01 to 10 nanometers, corresponding to frequencies in the range 30 petahertz to 30 exahertz and energies in the range 120 eV to 120 keV. They are shorter in wavelength than UV rays and longer than gamma...

s and gamma ray
Gamma ray
Gamma radiation, also known as gamma rays or hyphenated as gamma-rays and denoted as γ, is electromagnetic radiation of high frequency . Gamma rays are usually naturally produced on Earth by decay of high energy states in atomic nuclei...

s produced as a result of annihilation
Annihilation
Annihilation is defined as "total destruction" or "complete obliteration" of an object; having its root in the Latin nihil . A literal translation is "to make into nothing"....

, but this is not observed. This problem is called the baryon asymmetry, and the theory to describe the resolution is called baryogenesis
Baryogenesis
In physical cosmology, baryogenesis is the generic term for hypothetical physical processes that produced an asymmetry between baryons and antibaryons in the very early universe, resulting in the substantial amounts of residual matter that make up the universe today.Baryogenesis theories employ...

. The theory of baryogenesis was worked out by Andrei Sakharov
Andrei Sakharov
Andrei Dmitrievich Sakharov was a Soviet nuclear physicist, dissident and human rights activist. He earned renown as the designer of the Soviet Union's Third Idea, a codename for Soviet development of thermonuclear weapons. Sakharov was an advocate of civil liberties and civil reforms in the...

 in 1967, and requires a violation of the particle physics symmetry, called CP-symmetry, between matter and antimatter. Particle accelerators, however, measure too small a violation of CP-symmetry to account for the baryon asymmetry. Cosmologists and particle physicists are trying to find additional violations of the CP-symmetry in the early universe that might account for the baryon asymmetry.

Both the problems of baryogenesis and cosmic inflation are very closely related to particle physics, and their resolution might come from high energy theory and experiment
Particle accelerator
A particle accelerator is a device that uses electromagnetic fields to propel charged particles to high speeds and to contain them in well-defined beams. An ordinary CRT television set is a simple form of accelerator. There are two basic types: electrostatic and oscillating field accelerators.In...

, rather than through observations of the universe.

Big bang nucleosynthesis


Big Bang Nucleosynthesis is the theory of the formation of the elements in the early universe. It finished when the universe was about three minutes old and its temperature
Temperature
Temperature is a physical property of matter that quantitatively expresses the common notions of hot and cold. Objects of low temperature are cold, while various degrees of higher temperatures are referred to as warm or hot...

 dropped below that at which nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion
Nuclear fusion is the process by which two or more atomic nuclei join together, or "fuse", to form a single heavier nucleus. This is usually accompanied by the release or absorption of large quantities of energy...

 could occur. Big Bang nucleosynthesis had a brief period during which it could operate, so only the very lightest elements were produced. Starting from hydrogen
Hydrogen
Hydrogen is the chemical element with atomic number 1. It is represented by the symbol H. With an average atomic weight of , hydrogen is the lightest and most abundant chemical element, constituting roughly 75% of the Universe's chemical elemental mass. Stars in the main sequence are mainly...

 ion
Ion
An ion is an atom or molecule in which the total number of electrons is not equal to the total number of protons, giving it a net positive or negative electrical charge. The name was given by physicist Michael Faraday for the substances that allow a current to pass between electrodes in a...

s (proton
Proton
The proton is a subatomic particle with the symbol or and a positive electric charge of 1 elementary charge. One or more protons are present in the nucleus of each atom, along with neutrons. The number of protons in each atom is its atomic number....

s), it principally produced deuterium
Deuterium
Deuterium, also called heavy hydrogen, is one of two stable isotopes of hydrogen. It has a natural abundance in Earth's oceans of about one atom in of hydrogen . Deuterium accounts for approximately 0.0156% of all naturally occurring hydrogen in Earth's oceans, while the most common isotope ...

, helium-4
Helium
Helium is the chemical element with atomic number 2 and an atomic weight of 4.002602, which is represented by the symbol He. It is a colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert, monatomic gas that heads the noble gas group in the periodic table...

 and lithium
Lithium
Lithium is a soft, silver-white metal that belongs to the alkali metal group of chemical elements. It is represented by the symbol Li, and it has the atomic number 3. Under standard conditions it is the lightest metal and the least dense solid element. Like all alkali metals, lithium is highly...

. Other elements were produced in only trace abundances. The basic theory of nucleosynthesis was developed in 1948 by George Gamow
George Gamow
George Gamow , born Georgiy Antonovich Gamov , was a Russian-born theoretical physicist and cosmologist. He discovered alpha decay via quantum tunneling and worked on radioactive decay of the atomic nucleus, star formation, stellar nucleosynthesis, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, cosmic microwave...

, Ralph Asher Alpher
Ralph Asher Alpher
Ralph Asher Alpher was an American cosmologist.- Childhood and education :Alpher was the son of a Russian Jewish immigrant, Samuel Alpher, from Vitebsk, Russia. His mother, Rose, died of stomach cancer in 1938 and his father later remarried...

 and Robert Herman
Robert Herman
Robert Herman was a United States scientist, best known for his work with Ralph Alpher in 1948-50, on estimating the temperature of cosmic microwave background radiation from the Big Bang explosion....

. It was used for many years as a probe of physics at the time of the Big Bang, as the theory of Big Bang nucleosynthesis connects the abundances of primordial light elements with the features of the early universe. Specifically, it can be used to test the equivalence principle
Equivalence principle
In the physics of general relativity, the equivalence principle is any of several related concepts dealing with the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass, and to Albert Einstein's assertion that the gravitational "force" as experienced locally while standing on a massive body is actually...

, to probe dark matter
Dark matter
In astronomy and cosmology, dark matter is matter that neither emits nor scatters light or other electromagnetic radiation, and so cannot be directly detected via optical or radio astronomy...

, and test neutrino
Neutrino
A neutrino is an electrically neutral, weakly interacting elementary subatomic particle with a half-integer spin, chirality and a disputed but small non-zero mass. It is able to pass through ordinary matter almost unaffected...

 physics. Some cosmologists have proposed that Big Bang nucleosynthesis suggests there is a fourth "sterile" species of neutrino.

Cosmic microwave background


The cosmic microwave background is radiation left over from decoupling
Decoupling
The term "decoupling" is used in many different contexts.-Economic growth without environmental damage:In economic and environmental fields, decoupling is becoming increasingly used in the context of economic production and environmental quality. When used in this way, it refers to the ability of...

 after the epoch of recombination
Recombination (cosmology)
In cosmology, recombination refers to the epoch at which charged electrons and protons first became bound to form electrically neutral hydrogen atoms.Note that the term recombination is a misnomer, considering that it represents the first time that electrically neutral hydrogen formed. After the...

 when neutral atoms first formed. At this point, radiation produced in the Big Bang stopped Thomson scattering
Thomson scattering
Thomson scattering is the elastic scattering of electromagnetic radiation by a free charged particle, as described by classical electromagnetism. It is just the low-energy limit of Compton scattering: the particle kinetic energy and photon frequency are the same before and after the scattering...

 from charged ions. The radiation, first observed in 1965 by Arno Penzias and Robert Woodrow Wilson
Robert Woodrow Wilson
For the American President, see Woodrow Wilson.Robert Woodrow Wilson is an American astronomer, 1978 Nobel laureate in physics, who with Arno Allan Penzias discovered in 1964 the cosmic microwave background radiation...

, has a perfect thermal black-body
Black body
A black body is an idealized physical body that absorbs all incident electromagnetic radiation. Because of this perfect absorptivity at all wavelengths, a black body is also the best possible emitter of thermal radiation, which it radiates incandescently in a characteristic, continuous spectrum...

 spectrum. It has a temperature of 2.7 kelvin
Kelvin
The kelvin is a unit of measurement for temperature. It is one of the seven base units in the International System of Units and is assigned the unit symbol K. The Kelvin scale is an absolute, thermodynamic temperature scale using as its null point absolute zero, the temperature at which all...

s today and is isotropic to one part in 105. Cosmological perturbation theory
Cosmological perturbation theory
In physical cosmology, cosmological perturbation theory is the theory by which the evolution of structure is understood in the big bang model. It uses general relativity to compute the gravitational forces causing small perturbations to grow and eventually seed the formation of stars, quasars,...

, which describes the evolution of slight inhomogeneities in the early universe, has allowed cosmologists to precisely calculate the angular power spectrum of the radiation, and it has been measured by the recent satellite experiments (COBE
COBE
The COsmic Background Explorer , also referred to as Explorer 66, was a satellite dedicated to cosmology. Its goals were to investigate the cosmic microwave background radiation of the universe and provide measurements that would help shape our understanding of the cosmos.This work provided...

 and WMAP) and many ground and balloon-based experiments (such as Degree Angular Scale Interferometer
Degree Angular Scale Interferometer
The Degree Angular Scale Interferometer was a telescope located in Antarctica. It was a 13-element interferometer operating between 26 and 36 GHz in ten bands. The instrument is similar in design to the Cosmic Background Imager and the Very Small Array...

, Cosmic Background Imager
Cosmic Background Imager
The Cosmic Background Imager was a 13-element interferometer perched at an elevation of 5,080 metres at Llano de Chajnantor Observatory in the Chilean Andes...

, and Boomerang
BOOMERanG experiment
The BOOMERanG experiment measured the cosmic microwave background radiation of a part of the sky during three sub-orbital balloon flights. It was the first experiment to make large, high fidelity images of the CMB temperature anisotropies...

). One of the goals of these efforts is to measure the basic parameters of the Lambda-CDM model
Lambda-CDM model
ΛCDM or Lambda-CDM is an abbreviation for Lambda-Cold Dark Matter, which is also known as the cold dark matter model with dark energy...

 with increasing accuracy, as well as to test the predictions of the Big Bang model and look for new physics. The recent measurements made by WMAP, for example, have placed limits on the neutrino masses.

Newer experiments, such as QUIET
QUIET
QUIET is an astronomy experiment to study the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation. QUIET stands for Q/U Imaging ExperimenT. The Q/U in the name refers to the ability of the telescope to measure the Q and U Stokes parameters simultaneously...

 and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope
Atacama Cosmology Telescope
The Atacama Cosmology Telescope is a six-metre telescope on Cerro Toco in the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile, near the Llano de Chajnantor Observatory. It is designed to make high-resolution, microwave-wavelength surveys of the sky in order to study the cosmic microwave background radiation...

, are trying to measure the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. These measurements are expected to provide further confirmation of the theory as well as information about cosmic inflation, and the so-called secondary anisotropies, such as the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect
Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect
The Sunyaev–Zel'dovich effect is the result of high energy electrons distorting the cosmic microwave background radiation through inverse Compton scattering, in which the low energy CMB photons receive energy boost during collision with the high energy cluster electrons...

 and Sachs-Wolfe effect
Sachs-Wolfe effect
The Sachs–Wolfe effect, named after Rainer Kurt Sachs and Arthur Michael Wolfe, is a property of the cosmic microwave background radiation , in which photons from the CMB are gravitationally redshifted, causing the CMB spectrum to appear uneven...

, which are caused by interaction between galaxies
Galaxy
A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

 and clusters
Galaxy groups and clusters
Galaxy groups and clusters are the largest known gravitationally bound objects to have arisen thus far in the process of cosmic structure formation. They form the densest part of the large scale structure of the universe...

 with the cosmic microwave background.

Formation and evolution of large-scale structure


Understanding the formation and evolution of the largest and earliest structures (i.e., quasar
Quasar
A quasi-stellar radio source is a very energetic and distant active galactic nucleus. Quasars are extremely luminous and were first identified as being high redshift sources of electromagnetic energy, including radio waves and visible light, that were point-like, similar to stars, rather than...

s, galaxies
Galaxy
A galaxy is a massive, gravitationally bound system that consists of stars and stellar remnants, an interstellar medium of gas and dust, and an important but poorly understood component tentatively dubbed dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias , literally "milky", a...

, clusters
Galaxy groups and clusters
Galaxy groups and clusters are the largest known gravitationally bound objects to have arisen thus far in the process of cosmic structure formation. They form the densest part of the large scale structure of the universe...

 and supercluster
Supercluster
Superclusters are large groups of smaller galaxy groups and clusters and are among the largest known structures of the cosmos. They are so large that they are not gravitationally bound and, consequently, partake in the Hubble expansion.-Existence:...

s) is one of the largest efforts in cosmology. Cosmologists study a model of hierarchical structure formation in which structures form from the bottom up, with smaller objects forming first, while the largest objects, such as superclusters, are still assembling. One way to study structure in the universe is to survey the visible galaxies, in order to construct a three-dimensional picture of the galaxies in the universe and measure the matter power spectrum. This is the approach of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey
Sloan Digital Sky Survey
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey or SDSS is a major multi-filter imaging and spectroscopic redshift survey using a dedicated 2.5-m wide-angle optical telescope at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, United States. The project was named after the Alfred P...

 and the 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey
2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey
In astronomy, the 2dF Galaxy Redshift Survey , 2dF or 2dFGRS is a redshift survey conducted by the Anglo-Australian Observatory with the 3.9m Anglo-Australian Telescope between 1997 and 11 April 2002. The data from this survey were made public on 30 June 2003...

.

Another tool for understanding structure formation is simulations, which cosmologists use to study the gravitational aggregation of matter in the universe, as it clusters into filaments
Galaxy filament
In physical cosmology, galaxy filaments, also called supercluster complexes or great walls, are, so far, the largest known cosmic structures in the universe. They are massive, thread-like structures with a typical length of 50 to 80 megaparsecs h-1 that form the boundaries between large voids in...

, superclusters and voids
Void (astronomy)
In astronomy, voids are the empty spaces between filaments, the largest-scale structures in the Universe, that contain very few, or no, galaxies. They were first discovered in 1978 during a pioneering study by Stephen Gregory and Laird A. Thompson at the Kitt Peak National Observatory...

. Most simulations contain only non-baryonic cold dark matter
Cold dark matter
Cold dark matter is the improvement of the big bang theory that contains the additional assumption that most of the matter in the Universe consists of material that cannot be observed by its electromagnetic radiation and whose constituent particles move slowly...

, which should suffice to understand the universe on the largest scales, as there is much more dark matter in the universe than visible, baryonic matter. More advanced simulations are starting to include baryons and study the formation of individual galaxies. Cosmologists study these simulations to see if they agree with the galaxy surveys, and to understand any discrepancy.

Other, complementary observations to measure the distribution of matter in the distant universe and to probe reionization
Reionization
In Big Bang cosmology, reionization is the process that reionized the matter in the universe after the "dark ages," and is the second of two major phase changes of gas in the universe. As the majority of baryonic matter is in the form of hydrogen, reionization usually refers to the reionization of...

 include:
  • The Lyman alpha forest, which allows cosmologists to measure the distribution of neutral atomic hydrogen gas in the early universe, by measuring the absorption of light from distant quasars by the gas.
  • The 21 centimeter absorption
    Absorption (electromagnetic radiation)
    In physics, absorption of electromagnetic radiation is the way by which the energy of a photon is taken up by matter, typically the electrons of an atom. Thus, the electromagnetic energy is transformed to other forms of energy for example, to heat. The absorption of light during wave propagation is...

     line of neutral atomic hydrogen also provides a sensitive test of cosmology
  • Weak lensing, the distortion of a distant image by gravitational lensing due to dark matter.

These will help cosmologists settle the question of when and how structure formed in the universe.

Dark matter


Evidence from Big Bang nucleosynthesis
Big Bang nucleosynthesis
In physical cosmology, Big Bang nucleosynthesis refers to the production of nuclei other than those of H-1 during the early phases of the universe...

, the cosmic microwave background and structure formation suggests that about 23% of the mass of the universe consists of non-baryonic dark matter, whereas only 4% consists of visible, baryonic matter. The gravitational effects of dark matter are well understood, as it behaves like a cold, non-radiative
Radioactive decay
Radioactive decay is the process by which an atomic nucleus of an unstable atom loses energy by emitting ionizing particles . The emission is spontaneous, in that the atom decays without any physical interaction with another particle from outside the atom...

 fluid that forms haloes
Galactic halo
The term galactic halo is used to denote an extended, roughly spherical component of a galaxy, which extends beyond the main, visible component. It can refer to any of several distinct components which share these properties:* the galactic spheroid...

 around galaxies. Dark matter has never been detected in the laboratory, and the particle physics nature of dark matter remains completely unknown. Without observational constraints, there are a number of candidates, such as a stable supersymmetric
Supersymmetry
In particle physics, supersymmetry is a symmetry that relates elementary particles of one spin to other particles that differ by half a unit of spin and are known as superpartners...

 particle, a weakly interacting massive particle, an axion
Axion
The axion is a hypothetical elementary particle postulated by the Peccei-Quinn theory in 1977 to resolve the strong CP problem in quantum chromodynamics...

, and a massive compact halo object
Massive compact halo object
Massive astrophysical compact halo object, or MACHO, is a general name for any kind of astronomical body that might explain the apparent presence of dark matter in galaxy halos. A MACHO is a body composed of normal baryonic matter, which emits little or no radiation and drifts through interstellar...

. Alternatives to the dark matter hypothesis include a modification of gravity at small accelerations (MOND
Mond
Mond may refer to:* MOND - Modified Newtonian Dynamics. A proposed adjustment to the classical inverse-square law of gravity.* Der Mond, an opera in one act* Mond Nickel Company, a defunct mining company...

) or an effect from brane cosmology
Brane cosmology
Brane cosmology refers to several theories in particle physics and cosmology motivated by, but not exclusively derived from, superstring theory and M-theory.-Brane and bulk:...

.

Dark energy


If the universe is flat
Flatness (cosmology)
The concept of "curvature of space" is fundamental to cosmology. A space without curvature is called a "flat space" or Euclidean space.Whether the universe is “flat″ could determine its ultimate fate; whether it will expand forever, or ultimately collapse back into itself. The geometry of spacetime...

, there must be an additional component making up 73% (in addition to the 23% dark matter and 4% baryons) of the energy density of the universe. This is called dark energy. In order not to interfere with Big Bang nucleosynthesis and the cosmic microwave background, it must not cluster in haloes like baryons and dark matter. There is strong observational evidence for dark energy, as the total energy density of the universe is known through constraints on the flatness of the universe, but the amount of clustering matter is tightly measured, and is much less than this. The case for dark energy was strengthened in 1999, when measurements demonstrated that the expansion of the universe has begun to gradually accelerate.

Apart from its density and its clustering properties, nothing is known about dark energy. Quantum field theory
Quantum field theory
Quantum field theory provides a theoretical framework for constructing quantum mechanical models of systems classically parametrized by an infinite number of dynamical degrees of freedom, that is, fields and many-body systems. It is the natural and quantitative language of particle physics and...

 predicts a cosmological constant
Cosmological constant
In physical cosmology, the cosmological constant was proposed by Albert Einstein as a modification of his original theory of general relativity to achieve a stationary universe...

 much like dark energy, but 120 orders of magnitude larger than that observed. Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg
Steven Weinberg is an American theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate in Physics for his contributions with Abdus Salam and Sheldon Glashow to the unification of the weak force and electromagnetic interaction between elementary particles....

 and a number of string theorists (see string landscape) have used this as evidence for the anthropic principle
Anthropic principle
In astrophysics and cosmology, the anthropic principle is the philosophical argument that observations of the physical Universe must be compatible with the conscious life that observes it. Some proponents of the argument reason that it explains why the Universe has the age and the fundamental...

, which suggests that the cosmological constant is so small because life (and thus physicists, to make observations) cannot exist in a universe with a large cosmological constant, but many people find this an unsatisfying explanation. Other possible explanations for dark energy include quintessence
Quintessence (physics)
In physics, quintessence is a hypothetical form of dark energy postulated as an explanation of observations of an accelerating universe. It has been proposed by some physicists to be a fifth fundamental force...

 or a modification of gravity on the largest scales. The effect on cosmology of the dark energy that these models describe is given by the dark energy's equation of state
Equation of state (cosmology)
In cosmology, the equation of state of a perfect fluid is characterized by a dimensionless number \! w, equal to the ratio of its pressure \! p to its energy density \! \rho: \! w=p/\rho...

, which varies depending upon the theory. The nature of dark energy is one of the most challenging problems in cosmology.

A better understanding of dark energy is likely to solve the problem of the ultimate fate of the universe
Ultimate fate of the universe
The ultimate fate of the universe is a topic in physical cosmology. Many possible fates are predicted by rival scientific theories, including futures of both finite and infinite duration....

. In the current cosmological epoch, the accelerated expansion due to dark energy is preventing structures larger than superclusters from forming. It is not known whether the acceleration will continue indefinitely, perhaps even increasing until a big rip
Big Rip
The Big Rip is a cosmological hypothesis first published in 2003, about the ultimate fate of the universe, in which the matter of the universe, from stars and galaxies to atoms and subatomic particles, is progressively torn apart by the expansion of the universe at a certain time in the future...

, or whether it will eventually reverse.

Other areas of inquiry


Cosmologists also study:
  • whether primordial black hole
    Primordial black hole
    A primordial black hole is a hypothetical type of black hole that is formed not by the gravitational collapse of a large star but by the extreme density of matter present during the universe's early expansion....

    s were formed in our universe, and what happened to them.
  • the GZK cutoff for high-energy cosmic rays, and whether it signals a failure of special relativity
    Special relativity
    Special relativity is the physical theory of measurement in an inertial frame of reference proposed in 1905 by Albert Einstein in the paper "On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies".It generalizes Galileo's...

     at high energies
  • the equivalence principle
    Equivalence principle
    In the physics of general relativity, the equivalence principle is any of several related concepts dealing with the equivalence of gravitational and inertial mass, and to Albert Einstein's assertion that the gravitational "force" as experienced locally while standing on a massive body is actually...

    , whether or not Einstein's general theory of relativity
    General relativity
    General relativity or the general theory of relativity is the geometric theory of gravitation published by Albert Einstein in 1916. It is the current description of gravitation in modern physics...

     is the correct theory of gravitation
    Gravitation
    Gravitation, or gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which physical bodies attract with a force proportional to their mass. Gravitation is most familiar as the agent that gives weight to objects with mass and causes them to fall to the ground when dropped...

    , and if the fundamental laws of physics are the same everywhere in the universe.

See also


  • String cosmology
    String cosmology
    String cosmology is a relatively new field that tries to apply equations of string theory to solve the questions of early cosmology. A related area of study is brane cosmology ....

  • Physical ontology
  • List of cosmologists

Textbooks

Introductory cosmology and general relativity without the full tensor apparatus, deferred until the last part of the book. An introductory text, released slightly before the WMAP
Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe
The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe — also known as the Microwave Anisotropy Probe , and Explorer 80 — is a spacecraft which measures differences in the temperature of the Big Bang's remnant radiant heat — the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation — across the full sky. Headed by Professor...

 results. For undergraduates; mathematically gentle with a strong historical focus. An introductory astronomy text. The classic reference for researchers. Cosmology without general relativity. An introduction to cosmology with a thorough discussion of inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

. Discusses the formation of large-scale structures in detail. An introduction including more on general relativity and quantum field theory than most. Strong historical focus. The classic work on large-scale structure and correlation functions. A standard reference for the mathematical formalism.
  • Benjamin Gal-Or, “Cosmology, Physics and Philosophy”, Springer Verlag, 1981, 1983, 1987, ISBN 0-387-90581-2, ISBN 0387965262.

From groups

  • Cambridge Cosmology- from Cambridge University (public home page)
  • Cosmology 101 - from the NASA
    NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

     WMAP group
  • Center for Cosmological Physics. University of Chicago
    University of Chicago
    The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

    , Chicago, Illinois
    Chicago
    Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

    .
  • Origins, Nova Online - Provided by PBS
    Public Broadcasting Service
    The Public Broadcasting Service is an American non-profit public broadcasting television network with 354 member TV stations in the United States which hold collective ownership. Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia....

    .

From individuals

  • Carroll, Sean
    Sean M. Carroll
    Sean Michael Carroll is a senior research associate in the Department of Physics at the California Institute of Technology. He is a theoretical cosmologist specializing in dark energy and general relativity...

    . "Cosmology Primer". California Institute of Technology.
  • Gale, George, "Cosmology: Methodological Debates in the 1930s and 1940s", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Edward N. Zalta (ed.)
  • Madore, Barry F., "Level 5 : A Knowledgebase for Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology". Caltech and Carnegie. Pasadena, California, USA.
  • Tyler, Pat, and Phil Newman "Beyond Einstein". Laboratory for High Energy Astrophysics (LHEA) NASA
    NASA
    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is the agency of the United States government that is responsible for the nation's civilian space program and for aeronautics and aerospace research...

     Goddard Space Flight Center
    Goddard Space Flight Center
    The Goddard Space Flight Center is a major NASA space research laboratory established on May 1, 1959 as NASA's first space flight center. GSFC employs approximately 10,000 civil servants and contractors, and is located approximately northeast of Washington, D.C. in Greenbelt, Maryland, USA. GSFC,...

    .
  • Wright, Ned
    Edward L. Wright
    Edward L. Wright is an American astrophysicist and cosmologist, well known for his achievements in the COBE project and as a strong Big Bang proponent in web tutorials on cosmology and theory of relativity....

    . "Cosmology tutorial and FAQ". Division of Astronomy & Astrophysics, UCLA.