Doesn't there have to be more than one observable universe?

  • #1
platosuniverse
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I was just curious because if space can expand faster than light, doesn't that mean there will be a lot of space that we just can't see? Do objects just vanish because we can't see them?

For instance, if a hypothetical alien lived in MACS0647-JD galaxy which is 13.3 billion light years away, wouldn't it's observable universe extend into space outside of our observable universe? Wouldn't that mean observable universes are infinite and share the same age? Is there anything that says space can't extend past where we can observe based on the speed of light?
 
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  • #2
Bandersnatch
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An observable universe is just a patch of a larger whole that any particular observer can see. There are as many observable universes as there are observers (so, infinite).
Each observable universe is finite in extent.
But if the observers are not far from one another, like two people on Earth, then the difference in what they can see is imperceptibly small. So when we talk about the observable universe, we usually mean the extent of the larger universe that people on Earth can see.

MACS0647-JD galaxy which is 13.3 billion light years away
That number is the time it took its light to reach us times the speed of light. It's not really distance in any common sense of the word. If you could stop the expansion today and take a ruler to measure where it is, you'd measure a significantly higher number. Distances in cosmology are a bit wonky, is what I'm saying.

Do objects just vanish because we can't see them?
If you've seen it once, then you'll keep seeing it.
 
  • #3
kimbyd
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I was just curious because if space can expand faster than light, doesn't that mean there will be a lot of space that we just can't see? Do objects just vanish because we can't see them?
Yes. No.

I'll tackle the second one first. Whenever an object crosses a horizon, an observer who doesn't cross that horizon never actually sees the crossing happen: instead, they see an image of the object get redshifted more and more as time goes on. This is true whether you are talking about the event horizon of a black hole or the cosmological horizon. In essence, what happens is that the finite number of photons which were emitted by the object before it crossed the horizon get spread out in time infinitely into the future. Eventually those photons will redshift so much that they can't be detected, but there is no sudden disappearance.

The first question can be complicated when you start considering theories beyond the standard model, but in the simplest models the answer is simply yes: there's plenty of stuff beyond the observable universe.

For instance, if a hypothetical alien lived in MACS0647-JD galaxy which is 13.3 billion light years away, wouldn't it's observable universe extend into space outside of our observable universe? Wouldn't that mean observable universes are infinite and share the same age? Is there anything that says space can't extend past where we can observe based on the speed of light?
This argument doesn't imply an infinite universe. It does, however, imply that there is no boundary to the universe. This could be the case for a finite universe that wraps back on itself (e.g. spherical or toroidal shape). Or it could be infinite.
 
  • #4
platosuniverse
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Yes. No.

I'll tackle the second one first. Whenever an object crosses a horizon, an observer who doesn't cross that horizon never actually sees the crossing happen: instead, they see an image of the object get redshifted more and more as time goes on. This is true whether you are talking about the event horizon of a black hole or the cosmological horizon. In essence, what happens is that the finite number of photons which were emitted by the object before it crossed the horizon get spread out in time infinitely into the future. Eventually those photons will redshift so much that they can't be detected, but there is no sudden disappearance.

The first question can be complicated when you start considering theories beyond the standard model, but in the simplest models the answer is simply yes: there's plenty of stuff beyond the observable universe.


This argument doesn't imply an infinite universe. It does, however, imply that there is no boundary to the universe. This could be the case for a finite universe that wraps back on itself (e.g. spherical or toroidal shape). Or it could be infinite.

Thanks and does this mean if an object redshifts out of view it's just in a universe we can't observe? Is there any evidence as to where this ends if it ends? Wouldn't this mean there will always be objects in our universe that exists in an observable universe that extends well beyond our own observable universe and wouldn't this go on ad infinitum unless there was some way to stop expansion?
 
  • #5
kimbyd
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Thanks and does this mean if an object redshifts out of view it's just in a universe we can't observe? Is there any evidence as to where this ends if it ends? Wouldn't this mean there will always be objects in our universe that exists in an observable universe that extends well beyond our own observable universe and wouldn't this go on ad infinitum unless there was some way to stop expansion?
"In a universe we can't observe" isn't a well-defined statement. The problem is that the bare term "universe" means "all that exists". Nothing that exists can be in another universe, because the universe is everything! A more precise statement is that they are outside of our observable universe, and our observable universe is only a fraction of the overall universe.

Also, for a sense of scale, it will take a couple trillion years for galaxies to redshift so much their light becomes undetectable.
 
  • #6
platosuniverse
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"In a universe we can't observe" isn't a well-defined statement. The problem is that the bare term "universe" means "all that exists". Nothing that exists can be in another universe, because the universe is everything! A more precise statement is that they are outside of our observable universe, and our observable universe is only a fraction of the overall universe.

Also, for a sense of scale, it will take a couple trillion years for galaxies to redshift so much their light becomes undetectable.

That's what I meant. There's an overall universe or overall space with pockets of observable universes within that overall space. When you look at the 46.6 billion light year radius of the observable universe, Would an alien in MACS0647-JD galaxy see it's observable universe as 46.6 billion light years in each direction and would some of the space of it's pocket observable universe extend into a space outside of our pocket observable universe?

We know that two galaxies about 4,200 megaparsecs apart will be moving away from each other faster than the speed of light. This is about 13.7 billion light years. So there's more than enough room for objects to be more than 4,200 megaparsecs away from each other in there own observable sphere.

This is speculation but the age of the universe might point to the time we separated from another observable universe that was just like or similar to ours. I just read a really good paper:

From Planck Data to Planck Era: Observational Tests of Holographic Cosmology
Niayesh Afshordi, Claudio Corianò, Luigi Delle Rose, Elizabeth Gould, and Kostas Skenderis
Phys. Rev. Lett. 118, 041301 – Published 27 January 2017

https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.118.041301

An article about the paper said this:

"Imagine that everything you see, feel and hear in three dimensions, and your perception of time, in fact emanates from a flat two-dimensional field,” says Professor Kostas Skenderis from the University of Southampton.

“The idea is similar to that of ordinary holograms where a 3D image is encoded in a 2D surface, such as in the hologram on a credit card. However, this time, the entire Universe is encoded." Another way of simplifying this is through 3D films. Although not an example of a hologram, 3D films create the illusion of 3D objects from a flat 2D screen. The difference in our 3D Universe is that we can touch objects and the 'projection' is 'real', from our perspective.

Recent advances in telescopes and sensing equipment have allowed scientists to detect a vast amount of data hidden in the 'white noise' or microwaves left over from the moment the Universe was created. Using this information, the team was able to make comparisons between networks of features in the data and quantum field theory. They found some of the simplest quantum field theories could explain nearly all cosmological observations of the early Universe.

http://www.wired.co.uk/article/our-universe-is-a-hologram

Wouldn't you expect data from the observable universe we're born from in this noise from the CMB because if this information is on the event horizon of a black hole from that universe, wouldn't it show up in the noise?
 
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  • #7
Bandersnatch
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Would an alien in MACS0647-JD galaxy see it's observable universe as 46.6 billion light years in each direction and would some of the space of it's pocket observable universe extend into a space outside of our pocket observable universe?
Yes, there's nothing controversial about that. Mostly because the other observable universes are just more of the same. Again, there's as many observable universes as there are observers.
This picture shows the situation you're describing:
observable universes 1.png

The patches depicted above grow with time, while A and B recede from each other.

This is speculation but the age of the universe might point to the time we separated from another observable universe that was just like or similar to ours.
You're putting too much weight on the Hubble distance - the distance where recession velocities reach the speed of light.
1. This number is only coincidentally close to the age of the universe times the speed of light
2. It doesn't mean that galaxies beyond it are unobservable

Causal patches of the universe can and do separate, but it's not equivalent to galaxies disappearing from sight, nor does it happen at one particular time (it's an ongoing process).

This post discusses how and in what sense do causal patches of observable universes separate, using light-cone graphs as a visual aid:
https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...increase-bc-of-expansion.912881/#post-5754083
 

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  • #8
kurros
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If you've seen it once, then you'll keep seeing it.

That's not true, is it? Due to the accelerated expansion of the universe, distant objects are moving outside our observable horizon all the time. Unless I am mixing up different cosmological horizons, those can get confusing. I don't think so though. In the far distant future our local group of galaxies, or at least the largest gravitationally-bound structure that we are part of, will be all that can be seen from the Milky Way. The rest of the galaxies will have accelerated away from us so much that they are beyond our observable horizon. They will have red-shifted into nothingness from our perspective.

Edit: Ok looking at the link you posted, it is the particle horizon you are talking about yes? This is a pretty loose definition of "will keep seeing it" I think. Light is quantized, so the number of photons arriving per second from these highly redshifted objects gets smaller and smaller. Eventually there will in fact be a time when no more photons arrive, and any "stragglers" will be so red-shifted that we could never detect them anyway.
 
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  • #9
Bandersnatch
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They will have red-shifted into nothingness from our perspective.
The point is, even though the signals we'll be receiving will become more and more redshifted, there'll never be a time when we'll stop getting them. Crossing the cosmic event horizon now does not make the earlier light sent from the object disappear. The light from the horizon crossing event will arrive at the observer only after infinite time.
It's the same effect as with an event horizon of a black hole, that kimbyd mentioned in her post #3. There's some more about it in the post about causality and light-cones I linked above.

So the objects in question are never unobservable in principle, only in practice - due to redshift and faintness of the signal.
 
  • #10
platosuniverse
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Yes, there's nothing controversial about that. Mostly because the other observable universes are just more of the same. Again, there's as many observable universes as there are observers.
This picture shows the situation you're describing:
View attachment 225845
The patches depicted above grow with time, while A and B recede from each other.


You're putting too much weight on the Hubble distance - the distance where recession velocities reach the speed of light.
1. This number is only coincidentally close to the age of the universe times the speed of light
2. It doesn't mean that galaxies beyond it are unobservable

Causal patches of the universe can and do separate, but it's not equivalent to galaxies disappearing from sight, nor does it happen at one particular time (it's an ongoing process).

This post discusses how and in what sense do causal patches of observable universes separate, using light-cone graphs as a visual aid:
https://www.physicsforums.com/threa...increase-bc-of-expansion.912881/#post-5754083

Thanks for the response and thanks for the visual. That's exactly what I'm saying with Barbara and Adam.

I do disagree on your second part though and I agree with kurros.

That's not true, is it? Due to the accelerated expansion of the universe, distant objects are moving outside our observable horizon all the time. Unless I am mixing up different cosmological horizons, those can get confusing. I don't think so though. In the far distant future our local group of galaxies, or at least the largest gravitationally-bound structure that we are part of, will be all that can be seen from the Milky Way. The rest of the galaxies will have accelerated away from us so much that they are beyond our observable horizon. They will have red-shifted into nothingness from our perspective.

Edit: Ok looking at the link you posted, it is the particle horizon you are talking about yes? This is a pretty loose definition of "will keep seeing it" I think. Light is quantized, so the number of photons arriving per second from these highly redshifted objects gets smaller and smaller. Eventually there will in fact be a time when no more photons arrive, and any "stragglers" will be so red-shifted that we could never detect them anyway.

Okay, now I see you were talking about the particle horizon. I agree with that.
 
  • #11
kurros
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The point is, even though the signals we'll be receiving will become more and more redshifted, there'll never be a time when we'll stop getting them. Crossing the cosmic event horizon now does not make the earlier light sent from the object disappear. The light from the horizon crossing event will arrive at the observer only after infinite time.
It's the same effect as with an event horizon of a black hole, that kimbyd mentioned in her post #3. There's some more about it in the post about causality and light-cones I linked above.

So the objects in question are never unobservable in principle, only in practice - due to redshift and faintness of the signal.

Well, again only from a classical perspective. With quantized photons there will eventually be a time when the probability of one photon from an object arriving in the next trillion years will be vanishingly small. A finite number of emitted photons is stretched over infinite future time.
 
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  • #12
Bandersnatch
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Well, again only from a classical perspective. With quantized photons there will eventually be a time when the probability of one photon from an object arriving in the next trillion years will be vanishingly small.
Again, that's the 'in practice' part. Even classically, given enough time any light wave will become so redshifted, that you'd need an impractically large detector to see it. But it doesn't mean the signal isn't there.

Edit: Ok looking at the link you posted, it is the particle horizon you are talking about yes?
I'm talking about the meaning of the event horizon. If the worldline of an object ever was within the event horizon of an observer, the event of the object's crossing of the horizon will be observed only after infinite time.
Particle horizon is more in line with what the OP is talking about when he asks about observable universes.

I do disagree on your second part though
Ok. What part exactly do you disagree with, and why?
 
  • #13
kurros
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Again, that's the 'in practice' part. Even classically, given enough time any light wave will become so redshifted, that you'd need an impractically large detector to see it. But it doesn't mean the signal isn't there.

It does in the quantum case though. In the example I gave, there is probably no signal at all, not even one photon. That is literally zero signal, unless you happen to get extremely lucky. So "probably zero signal" is philosophically quite different to "an extremely weak signal" I would say.

Though I am not sure if there is some super bizarre quantum argument to save things here, something about how the wavefunction is still here even though it has an extremely low amplitude...
 
  • #14
Bandersnatch
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It does in the quantum case though. In the example I gave, there is probably no signal at all, not even one photon. That is literally zero signal, unless you happen to get extremely lucky. So "probably zero signal" is philosophically quite different to "an extremely weak signal" I would say.
I don't disagree with that. The point I'm making is that with signals sent from within the event horizon you can in principle get 'extremely lucky' and observe that one photon. This is not true for signals from without the event horizon.
It's good to focus on the classical aspects here, since the expansion of the universe is based on a classical theory of gravity, and all the standard definitions and nomenclature used - such as the meaning of various horizons and the observable universe - does not include quantum effects.
 
  • #15
For instance, if a hypothetical alien lived in MACS0647-JD galaxy which is 13.3 billion light years away, wouldn't it's observable universe extend into space outside of our observable universe?

Yes.

Wouldn't that mean observable universes are infinite and share the same age?

We don't know. It's possible that the bubble we are in is finite. In some inflationary theories, the bubble of "normal vacuum" is finite and its border is expanding into "false vacuum" all the time. If this is the case, we are far away from that border, likely many times farther than the size of the observable Universe (otherwise, if we would be close to the border, CMB would have a measurable dipole component).
 
  • #16
George Jones
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If you've seen it once, then you'll keep seeing it.

What @Bandersnatch is true (modulo redshift).

That's not true, is it? Due to the accelerated expansion of the universe, distant objects are moving outside our observable horizon all the time.

This is a myth. Once on our past lightcone, always on our past lightcone, even in universes that have accelerating expansion. As time passes, some objects that are not our past lightcone move onto our past lightcone, but, once on, no object moves off our past lighcone, i.e., the amount of stuff in the observable universe increases with time.
 
  • #17
platosuniverse
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Here's an interesting article I just read that touches on this.

But these individual large groups will accelerate away from one another thanks to dark energy, and so will never have the opportunity to encounter one another or communicate with one another for very long. For example, if we were to send out signals today, from our location, at the speed of light, we’d only be able to reach 3% of the galaxies in our observable Universe today; the rest are already forever beyond our reach.

https://selfawarepatterns.com/2016/02/01/97-of-the-observable-universe-is-forever-unreachable/

I think it stands to reason that there's this overall space filled with observable pocket universes that share the same physics. Hawking's latest paper tries to reduce the physics of these pockets and I think that's on the right track. I think if you want universes with all of these different physical laws you need to look for evidence that supports the string theory landscape and 10^500 false vacua. It goes onto say:

Wrong. Astronomy news articles almost universally report cosmological distances using light travel time, the amount of time that the light with which we’re seeing an object took to travel from the object to us. For relatively nearby galaxy, say 20-30 million light years away, that’s fine. In those cases, the light travel time is close enough to the co-moving or “proper” distance, the distance between us and the remote galaxy “right now”, that it doesn’t make a real difference. But when we look at objects that are billions of light years away, there starts to be an increasingly significant difference between the proper distance and the light travel time.

Those farthest viewable galaxies that are 13.2 billion light years away in light travel time are over 30 billion light years away in proper distance. The cosmic microwave background, the most distant thing we can see, is 46 billion light years away. So, in “proper” distances, the radius of the observable universe is 46 billion light years.

That's crazy that we can only reach 3% of the galaxies in our observable universe today. That doesn't bode well for the fate of everything in our universe but then again maybe it does. Maybe the expansion of space eventually leads to the birth of new universes.

This is why I do think it's more than a coincidence that the radius of the Hubble's sphere is close to the age of the universe in light of the recent published paper I linked to earlier called From Planck Data to Planck Era. Maybe the age of our universe is when we were born from another universe that was like ours. Maybe a black hole formed in that universe and out of the other end we were born and this is why there's this data in the noise of the CMB. Maybe that information came from a parent universe.

That would mean you could get infinities within infinities of the same or similar things occurring if at the end of every universe or if every black hole can give birth to other universes.
 
  • #18
Bandersnatch
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I think it stands to reason that there's this overall space filled with observable pocket universes that share the same physics. Hawking's latest paper tries to reduce the physics of these pockets and I think that's on the right track.
Hawking's last paper discusses a completely different situation of pocket universes nucleated from eternal inflation. The 'there's more observable universe beyond what we can observe' insight that you've been focusing on in this thread is unrelated. The entire universe composed of all such observable patches forms just a single pocket in the eternal inflation landscape.

This is why I do think it's more than a coincidence that the radius of the Hubble's sphere is close to the age of the universe
It clearly is, if you look at the maths of where it comes from.
 
  • #19
kimbyd
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I think it stands to reason that there's this overall space filled with observable pocket universes that share the same physics. Hawking's latest paper tries to reduce the physics of these pockets and I think that's on the right track. I think if you want universes with all of these different physical laws you need to look for evidence that supports the string theory landscape and 10^500 false vacua. It goes onto say:
The string theory landscape isn't necessary. The actual features that are necessary are two-fold:
1) There have to be multiple metastable low-energy states which lead to different low-energy laws of physics. The string theory landscape satisfies this, but it isn't the only possibility. These states need to be metastable with long lifetimes as otherwise they'll all decay into whatever the lowest-energy state happens to be, leading to the same physics everywhere.
2) A way for the system to explore a large number of allowable states, such as spontaneous symmetry breaking. It may not be sufficient to merely have a theory which permits different low-energy laws, not unless there's mechanism within the theory to explore the parameter space.

Fortunately, point (2) almost always holds for any theory which satisfies (1).
 
  • #20
platosuniverse
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Hawking's last paper discusses a completely different situation of pocket universes nucleated from eternal inflation. The 'there's more observable universe beyond what we can observe' insight that you've been focusing on in this thread is unrelated. The entire universe composed of all such observable patches forms just a single pocket in the eternal inflation landscape.


It clearly is, if you look at the maths of where it comes from.

I understand Hawking is talking about Eternal Inflation and Holographic Cosmology, that's why I said he's on the right track when it comes to the physics of these pockets in any theory. I think it easier to separate a multiverse of universes that share the same or similar physics vs. ones that have different physics in each pocket. Hawking's said:

"The usual theory of eternal inflation predicts that globally our universe is like an infinite fractal, with a mosaic of different pocket universes, separated by an inflating ocean," Hawking explained.

"The local laws of physics and chemistry can differ from one pocket universe to another, which together would form a multiverse. But I have never been a fan of the multiverse. If the scale of different universes in the multiverse is large or infinite the theory can't be tested."

https://www.sciencealert.com/stephe...paper-theory-on-eternal-inflation-multiverses

I think this is on the right track whether it's Hawking's talking about reducing eternal inflation to a timeless state or what I'm talking about here.
 
  • #21
rootone
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There is an observable Universe for every observer. even non-sentient ones.
The Universe as a whole is the sum of all of these.
 
  • #22
Mr Wolf
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I have a very noob question. Let's suppose to be at the edges of the Universe, and there are objects which produce light, like quasars, stars or whatever.
So, what happens to the light that moves forward (not toward the inside of the Universe)? Where does it propagate? Does it "generate" space-time, since there's not a space-time (as far as I've understood) in which the Universe expands into, but the space-time is "generated" (whatever it does mean) as the Universe expands?
 
  • #23
kimbyd
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I have a very noob question. Let's suppose to be at the edges of the Universe, and there are objects which produce light, like quasars, stars or whatever.
So, what happens to the light that moves forward (not toward the inside of the Universe)? Where does it propagate? Does it "generate" space-time, since there's not a space-time (as far as I've understood) in which the Universe expands into, but the space-time is "generated" (whatever it does mean) as the Universe expands?
There is no edge.
 
  • #24
Mr Wolf
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What's there, then?
 
  • #25
weirdoguy
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Where is the edge of a 2-dimensional sphere? Where is the edge of a plane?
 
  • #26
Mr Wolf
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I don't know if it's a tricky question, but a sphere is a 3 dimensional object. :biggrin: However, I'd say where the edge begins depends on the length of its radius.
 
  • #27
weirdoguy
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but a sphere is a 3 dimensional object.

No it is not. You think about the 3-dimensional ball, I talk about the surface of a that ball which is 2-dimiensional. Anyway, as far as we know Universe does not have 'the edge' just like plane does not have one.
 
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  • #28
Mr Wolf
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Sorry, I'm a bit in a hurry now. But... you're talking about the example of the Universe expanding like a balloon?
 
  • #29
kimbyd
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What's there, then?
More universe. Or it wraps back on itself. Take your pick. Either way, there isn't a boundary.
 
  • #31
trainman2001
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This was a thought provoking thread for me. I hadn't thought about the fact that if we see the image of a Quasar at the edge of our observable distance and it's light has taken 13.7 billion years to get to us, we're seeing it in a position where it was 13.7 billion years ago. That means it has been traveling outwards during that 13.7 billion years and is significantly farther away. How far away is it? Was it's speed linear? According to current thought, it's speeding up. And it also means that there are probably objects red-shifted to invisibility beyond that distance that are moving even further. It's why they've adjusted the estimate of galaxies in what we perceive as our Universe from 500 billion or so to 2 or more trillions simply based on those Hubble deep field pictures and what they implied about what was not seen beyond those distant images.
 
  • #32
kimbyd
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This was a thought provoking thread for me. I hadn't thought about the fact that if we see the image of a Quasar at the edge of our observable distance and it's light has taken 13.7 billion years to get to us, we're seeing it in a position where it was 13.7 billion years ago. That means it has been traveling outwards during that 13.7 billion years and is significantly farther away. How far away is it? Was it's speed linear? According to current thought, it's speeding up. And it also means that there are probably objects red-shifted to invisibility beyond that distance that are moving even further. It's why they've adjusted the estimate of galaxies in what we perceive as our Universe from 500 billion or so to 2 or more trillions simply based on those Hubble deep field pictures and what they implied about what was not seen beyond those distant images.
Ned Wright's cosmology calculator can be useful here:
http://www.astro.ucla.edu/~wright/CosmoCalc.html

13.7 billion years ago is a bit too far: in the very early universe, there were no stars at all.

The furthest quasars are at around a redshift of ##z = 10## or so. Based on that calculator, the light travel time was 13.2 billion years. The distance when the light was emitted (technical term: angular size distance) was around 2.9 billion light years. The distance today (technical term: comoving radial distance) is about 31.4 billion light years.
 
  • #33
Chronos
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Keep in mind it took light 13.7 billion years to reach us from the 'edge' of our observable universe so any images you view of it now are merely a snapshot from the past. If you tried to go there now it would take you at least 13.7 billion years to get there and the universe would continue to age. Yes, that means you cannot get there from here. You can go to the hospital you were born at, but, not in time to witness your own birth.
 
  • #34
Mr Wolf
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It isn't. Try it this way: where is the edge of the Earth's surface?

Well, I guess I get what your point is: that is, if I move along the surface of a sphere I don't actually reach an edge. :eek:
As far as I've read and understood (I studied Physics many years ago, but not Cosmology and Astrophysics), there's not an empty space in which the Universe expands, but space-time is "created" as the Universe expands. However, talking about these things by words and trying to visualize them is pretty difficult.

EDIT: I still keep reading 'edge' of visible Universe, and talking about the furthest objects away (13.7 billions light years). So, if there's such a distance, what does it mean?
 
  • #35
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if I move along the surface of a sphere I don't actually reach an edge

Yes, exactly. A 2-sphere is a compact manifold (has a finite area) without boundary (no edge). By contrast, an ordinary piece of paper (if we idealize it as being perfectly 2-dimensional) is a compact manifold (has a finite area) with boundary (it has an edge).

there's not an empty space in which the Universe expands

Yes.

space-time is "created" as the Universe expands

No. Spacetime is a 4-dimensional geometry. It doesn't change, it doesn't get created or destroyed, it just is. The shape of the 4-dimensional geometry that describes our universe just happens to have a particular set of 3-dimensional spacelike slices in it that have an increasing spatial scale factor in the future time direction.

I still keep reading 'edge' of visible Universe

That's the distance of the farthest objects that we can see. We can only see a finite distance away because the universe has a finite age, so light has only had a finite time to travel to us from distant objects.

the furthest objects away (13.7 billions light years).

The most distant objects whose light is just reaching us now, i.e., which are at the edge of our observable universe, are more than 13.7 billion light years away, because of the geometry of spacetime. (The usual way of saying this is that the universe has been expanding while the light has been traveling, but that way of putting it can be confusing because it invites incorrect inferences like the one I corrected above.) The distance "now" of objects whose light is just reaching us now is about 47 billion light years. But the light we are seeing from those objects was emitted about 13.7 billion years ago, so the universe was much, much smaller then and the light did not cover 47 billion light-years to get to us. (Nor did it cover 13.7 billion light-years. In a curved spacetime geometry you can't use the usual special relativity intuitions about the connection between distance and light travel time.)
 

Suggested for: Doesn't there have to be more than one observable universe?

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