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Why does time stop inside a black hole? What is inside a black hole?

Black holes are very compact objects (having more than enough mass in a very small volume) which come in a range of different sizes. In astronomy...

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Could two Earth mass moons of a gas giant planet be co-orbital with each other?

As most people probably are not familiar with this term, I think a brief explanation is in order. Objects such as moons, planets or asteroids are co-orbital when...

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What date would it be on Earth if it was viewed from Mars today?

This can be quite a tricky question as there is more than one way of measuring dates and times, such as the Julian date or the Gregorian calendar which is the...

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Andromeda
The Helix Nebula: The Helix is a planetary nebula which signals the end of the life of a star similar to our own Sun as it throws off its outer layers of gas. This image was made from a combination of NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope (infrared) and the Galaxy Evolution Explorer (GALEX, ultraviolet) - Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech

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There is currently an issue with only one question showing per section in the question archive. We are currently working to resolve the issue and hope to be back up and running as soon as possible.

 

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Over the next few months we will be updating the website to allow better navigation of the ever increasing number of questions and to make it easier to find what you are looking for. This will be done in stages so the website should always be available for you to ask and find the answers to any astronomy questions you may have but some page names will be changed. If you have any bookmarks or links from your own website we advise you update them once the change over is completed. The old pages will remain in place, but any new questions will only be put on the new version. If you have any comments or problems withe the new layout, please do let us know!

 

 

Star Astronomy Question

Is there actually any evidence to support the big bang theory and do you believe in creationism? Also, is there any evidence to prove that creationism is wrong?


From Celton

 

Hi Celton, the second part of this is a question which has been argued since almost the beginning of the scientific method! We really need to split this down in to four questions; what is a scientific theory; is there evidence to support the big bang; is there evidence to prove creationism is wrong, and what do I believe?


The first part may seem straight forward, but many people misunderstand what a theory really is. In everyday life, many people use the word theory to describe an idea, "I have this theory" is a phrase I hear quite often but what people normally mean is "I have this idea". In science, a theory is an explanation which is based on evidence and can be tested through experiment, observation or preferably, both. It is more than simply an idea. There are varying degrees of theory, from those barely tested and reliant on dubious assumptions all the way up to those very reliably theories which have been heavily tested using rigorous scientific methods. For example, the heliocentric theory that the Earth orbits the Sun is a very reliable theory that the scientific community believes almost without question. When we consider creationism, it is not a theory as it is not based on any evidence. For example when the old testament of the bible written between approximately 1400 B.C. and 400 B.C. it was itself not based on any verifiable evidence, just the beliefs of people at the time.


So where does the big bang lie along this scale of reliable theories? In science, the stranger a theory the more heavily it is tested. For example, the strangest, most counter-intuitive topic in science is arguably quantum mechanics. Its effects are not obvious in our day to day lives and so, being one of the most strange, it is also one of the most tested theory in all of science. This is for three main reasons. The first is if we are to believe something so strange to be true, then we must be as sure as we can be. The second is that (most) scientists above everything else, want to find the truth behind what is happening, that is why they love science! Finally and contrary to what many people may think, scientists like change. No one ever won a Nobel prize for agreeing with current theories, but finding the true alternative to quantum mechanics or the big bang? That's big news!


In a similar way, the big bang theory has been heavily tested and so there is a wealth of evidence to support it. One of the most notable is the cosmic microwave background (CMB) which was clear and testable prediction of the big bang theory and also helped to answer many of the outstanding questions about the evolution of our Universe. Does this mean... Click here to continue reading

 

 

 

YouTube Channel

 

The Big Bang: Origins of Our Universe

In the first of our 2012 talk series, take a trip from the birth of our Universe to the current day and beyond in this abridged version of a popular live talk.

 

WMAP CMB

Figure 1. The 7 year WMAP full sky image of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) provides strong evidence for the big bang being the starting point of our Universe. - Image courtesy of NASA / WMAP Science Team

 

2MASS All Sky Image

Figure 2. Galactic evolution and distribution of galaxies such as is shown by the 2MASS all sky map above also provides good evidence for the current big bang theory. Image courtesy of IPAC/Caltech