Many scientists claim that the universe is approximately 13.772 billion years old, and constantly expanding in all directions. If scientists can figure out exactly what rate it’s expanding, they can work backwards and give us a near-perfect age.
The solar system was created 4.5 billion years ago, when a molecular cloud collapsed to form a new star (the Sun). Scientists have figured out how the solar system formed by observing other stars.
”Initially, all stars form from a pre-solar nebula that pulls material in, with a large, outer region which remains cold, where amorphous silicates, carbon-based compounds, and ices all gather. Once the pre-solar nebula forms a proto-star and then a full-fledged star, this outer material comes in and begins forming larger clumps.
Over time, these clumps grow and fall in, where they interact, merge, migrate, and potentially eject one another. Over the timespan of hundreds-of-thousands to millions of years, once you have a star, the planets wind up forming; this is fast on a cosmic timescale. Although there were likely many intermediate objects, by time a few million years have passed, the Solar System looked pretty similar to what we have today.” Source
Why are there roughly 9 billion years between the formation of the universe and our sun?
While scientists aren’t certain of the exact nature of what caused the Sun to form, some astrophysicists believe it was some form of disturbance that started a gravitational collapse, that caused the Sun to form and a surrounding collection of matter to become our solar system. The disturbance could very well be from a star of mass many times that of our Sun that went supernova and the shockwave caused our Sun’s birth.
Stars are powered by nuclear fusion, and to do this hydrogen is converted into helium. In fusion many atoms collide together to form larger ones and these actions creates a lot of energy, which is where the brightness and heat comes from. Imagine how many times this must have happened throughout the life of the universe to where we are now. There are allegedly trillions upon trillions of stars within billions and billions of galaxies.
”A massive concentration of interstellar gas and dust created a molecular cloud that would form the sun’s birthplace. Cold temperatures caused the gas to clump together, growing steadily denser. The densest parts of the cloud began to collapse under its own gravity, forming a wealth of young stellar objects known as protostars. Gravity continued to collapse the material onto the infant object, creating a star and a disk of material from which the planets would form. When fusion kicked in, the star began to blast a stellar wind that helped clear out the debris and stopped it from falling inward.” Source
What happened after the Sun formed?
Over millions of years dust, gas and clouds from the Sun’s solar nebula began to collide and clump together. The objects got bigger and bigger until their mass was strong enough to cause their own gravity which made the planets form into oblate spheroids. The Sun forced the gasses further into the solar system, and kept the rockier formations close. That’s why Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars are in close orbit, and Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune are in the further reaches of the Sun’s grasp.
Between the orbits of Mars, and Jupiter, the Asteroid belt’, or the ‘main belt’ has numerous minor planets. One of these Professor Brian Cox focuses on on his The Planets BBC documentary. Ceres, one of The Planets inside the belt is apparently the only minor planet to have forced into a spheroid due to its gravity, and it’s partially covered with frozen ice.
There is some speculation that Earth, Ceres and Mars were fighting for position in the solar system, but a young Jupiter’s gravity rearranged them, giving Earth its position (some scientists think Earth and Mars might have collided) leaving Earth in the perfect position to sustain life, and Mars to drift into insignificance. Jupiter is also claimed to be one of the culprits behind the Late Heavy Bombardment, which is a time in Earth’s infant stages where hypothetically a large bombardment of asteroids collided with the planets of the early solar system. Jupiter’s mass is 2.5 times that of everything in the solar system besides the Sun, so it’s influence on what happens in our solar system is massive.
What events caused the beginning of our Universe?
Now there are several theories about how the Universe was formed but the two most common are – ‘Intelligent Design’ or the ‘Big Bang’. I’ve already covered Intelligent Design, so let’s focus on the ‘Big Bang’.
What was the Big Bang?
The Big Bang is a theory that the universe rapidly expanded from an extremely high-density and high-temperature state in a mere moment and some astrophysicists claim that it shifted faster than the speed of light. Due to the ‘Big Bang’ being opaque to light, scientists can’t tell if this is an accurate assumption or not, but considering it went from a significantly small size, to an unimaginable size in less than a second, it seems likely.
I’ve looked into various theories about how the ‘Big Bang’ happened and the conclusion that I’m personally most satisfied with is the ‘Initial Singularity theory’.
A singularity is a point at the centre of a black hole where density is infinitely condensed . The initial singularity is claimed to have contained the contents of what is now in our current universe. Quantum fluctuations (temporary change in energy) are said to have made the mass of the singularity unstable thus creating a massive, rapid release of energy which created the known universe.
Planck Epoch is the beginning part of the Universe’s history where it’s the most unstable and hottest. The first building blocks for our Universe came in the form of hydrogen and helium, and gradually formed into galaxies and stars. It look millions of years for the universe to cool down enough for this to happen
I’ve only just skimmed the surface here, and I urge anyone with any interest in science and quantum physics to look into this further. There are theories that the universe has given birth to itself countless times, and this involves super massive black holes consuming everything, until the resulting infinite mass becomes unstable due to quantum fluctuations and it starts again. This theory means there may have been countless versions of our universe before this one. I read an article last year that claimed a super massive black hole 12 billion times larger than the Sun had been spotted. How they come up with these measurements is beyond me, but the black hole that they recently photographed that’s the size of our solar system is irrelevant in comparison.