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Homework Help: Cosmology questions

  1. Jan 25, 2007 #1
    Hi, I'm new to this forum, but saw that everyone was so kind and helpful, so was wondering if anyone could help me with a couple of things..

    How does one calculate the age of the universe using Hubble's constant, if the constant is in km/s/Mpc?

    Do we know the critical density of the universe? I always thought that experts had a few pretty good estimates, but then someone told me today that this wasn't true..

    Does anyone know a thought experiment for length contraction that does not involve a train and a tunnel? For some reaosn this thought experiment always confuses me...I knew one once with a rocket travelling to alpha centauri at 0.8c, but am not sure if this is allowed if it assumes time dilation..

    If anyone could help I would be so grateful! I have an exam on all of this tomorrow!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 25, 2007 #2
    For the age of the universe, I've tried multiplying the constant by 1x10^3, then changing the Mpc into light years..is this correct?
     
  4. Jan 25, 2007 #3
    If H is the Hubble constant, then the age of the universe can be determined as the inverse of the constant, that is 1/H.
    EDIT: But this is ofcourse a very crude estimation.
     
  5. Jan 25, 2007 #4
    The age depends on what model you are using. For example, the age using the Einstein-de Sitter model is given by

    [tex]\frac{2}{3}H^{-1}[/tex].

    The critical density is also dependent on the choice of model so noone "knows" this density.
     
  6. Jan 25, 2007 #5

    Dick

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    The hubble constant has the units of 1/sec. An estimate of the age of the universe is given by 1/H. The exact age depends on your exact model of the universes evolution. E.g. assuming it is matter dominated (should be a good approximation) we get 3/(2*H). We know the critical density exactly as well as we know H. They define each other. What we don't know is the real density. A difference between these two would indicate the universe is spatially curved to a significant degree. Current consensus is that it is not.
     
  7. Jan 25, 2007 #6

    Dick

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    The hubble constant has the units of 1/sec. An estimate of the age of the universe is given by 1/H. The exact age depends on your exact model of the universes evolution. E.g. assuming it is matter dominated (should be a good approximation) we get 3/(2*H). We know the critical density exactly as well as we know H. They define each other. What we don't know is the real density. A difference between these two would indicate the universe is spatially curved to a significant degree. Current consensus is that it is not.
     
  8. Jan 25, 2007 #7
    Thanks for your help so far! My problem is determining the age of the universe from the units I have been given, km/s/Mpc...how does one change these units ino units suitable for the 1/H method?
     
  9. Jan 25, 2007 #8

    Dick

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    1 Mpc=3*10^19 km. Put this in and cancel the km.
     
  10. Jan 25, 2007 #9
    Hey thanks!!
     
  11. Jan 29, 2007 #10
    We do not know H exactly, but it is estimated to be around 70 km/s/Mpc with an error of ~10%.
     
  12. Jan 29, 2007 #11

    Dick

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    My point was that the uncertainty in H is "exactly the same" as the uncertainty in the critical density. Not that either was measured exactly. Thanks for the clarification.
     
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