# Expansion of Space Itself, rather than due to an Explosion like the Big Bang?

• B
• thetexan
In summary, we know that it is space itself that is expanding rather than an expansion due to an explosion such as the big bang because a model based on the first assumption matches observations, but a model based on the second one doesn't. Additionally, our observations are much more detailed than just "stuff is moving away from us", and a scientific model must make detailed quantitative predictions that match detailed quantitative data. This is why our standard hot Big Bang model is accepted, as it accurately predicts our observations. The concept of expanding space is also supported by our current theory of gravity, General Relativity, which states that matter and energy curve spacetime. Another piece of evidence is the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, which is predicted by the
thetexan
Please explain how we know that it is space itself that is expanding rather than an expansion due to an explosion such as the big bang.

In either case wouldn’t every object appear to be moving away from us?

How do we determine that space/ time is expanding?

Tex

thetexan said:
Please explain how we know that it is space itself that is expanding rather than an expansion due to an explosion such as the big bang.
Because a model based on the first assumption matches observations, but a model based on the second one doesn't.

thetexan said:
In either case wouldn’t every object appear to be moving away from us?
Yes, but our observations are much more detailed than just "stuff is moving away from us". A scientific model has to make detailed quantitative predictions that match detailed quantitative data. Our standard hot Big Bang model does that. A model based on "the big bang was just an ordinary explosion in pre-existing space" does not.

thetexan said:
How do we determine that space/ time is expanding?
By building a scientific model based on that assumption and seeing that its predictions match observations.

(Actually, cosmologists have good theoretical reasons for building a model based on that assumption anyway, since our best current theory of gravity, General Relativity, says that the presence of matter and energy curves spacetime, and what you are calling "expanding space" is just one aspect of the curved spacetime that GR predicts for the universe as a whole.)

DrChinese, PeroK and topsquark
thetexan said:
an explosion such as the big bang
To add to what has already been said, the Big Bang was most emphatically NOT an "explosion". That is a pop-sci misrepresentation. An explosion implies expansion from a point in space and that's not what the Big Bang was (it's an expansion from a point in time).

Last edited by a moderator:
topsquark
thetexan said:
Please explain how we know that it is space itself that is expanding rather than an expansion due to an explosion such as the big bang.
An explosion from a point has a blast front and a center. The universe would look very different to an observer near the leading edge of the explosion (much less stuff in one direction than the other) compared to an observer at the very center (everything the same in every direction). We see everything the same in every direction - but if you take our observations and work out what you'd see if you were somewhere else the answer is still everything the same in every direction. That's not consistent with an explosion - everything can't be the same everywhere in such a model, but that's what we see.
thetexan said:
How do we determine that space/ time is expanding?
It's just space expanding. It follows from the observation that everything looks the same everywhere. If you feed that observation into the Einstein field equations then an expanding universe (or a contracting one, but we don't seem to be in one of those) is what is predicted. Notably, Einstein hated this idea and only came around when Hubble (the man for whom the telescope is named) made the observations that corroborated it.

topsquark
You have obtained several correct and general answers so I will just complete them with a specific observation that fits the Big Bang model but not the explosion model: The cosmic microwave background (CMB). In the explosion model, radiation would also start at the explosion and move outwards, meaning it would never be observable to us as it is moving away. This is in contrast to the BB model that predicts the CMB, which we do see - invalidating the explosion model.

berkeman and Ibix
Orodruin said:
You have obtained several correct and general answers so I will just complete them with a specific observation that fits the Big Bang model but not the explosion model: The cosmic microwave background (CMB). In the explosion model, radiation would also start at the explosion and move outwards, meaning it would never be observable to us as it is moving away. This is in contrast to the BB model that predicts the CMB, which we do see - invalidating the explosion model.
I see a nuance here. First note that in standard cosmology, the CMB radiation originates later than the earliest history of comoving world lines. Specifically, it originates from when the universe became transparent to EM radiation. Then if we consider the Milne model as the simplest explosion model possibly consistent with relativity, and assume the origin of CMB radiation is any moment of cosmological time after 0 (noting that 0 is not even part of the Milne model), then comoving observers would see it forever, ever more red shifted.

topsquark
PAllen said:
I see a nuance here. First note that in standard cosmology, the CMB radiation originates later than the earliest history of comoving world lines. Specifically, it originates from when the universe became transparent to EM radiation. Then if we consider the Milne model as the simplest explosion model possibly consistent with relativity, and assume the origin of CMB radiation is any moment of cosmological time after 0 (noting that 0 is not even part of the Milne model), then comoving observers would see it forever, ever more red shifted.
But the Milne universe in itself is incompatible with containing a fluid in the first place.

Orodruin said:
But the Milne universe in itself is incompatible with containing a fluid in the first place.
Certainly per GR it is. But historically, it was first proposed as a pure SR cosmology model. In which case its failure is that it gets every quantitative prediction wrong, even though it has most qualitative features of realistic cosmology.

PAllen said:
In which case its failure is that it gets every quantitative prediction wrong
Isn't this also true for the empty FLRW universe being only a coordinate transformation away from the Milne universe?

timmdeeg said:
Isn't this also true for the empty FLRW universe being only a coordinate transformation away from the Milne universe?
They do are the same thing, mathematically. The difference is only in how they originated and were interpreted.

timmdeeg

## 1. What is the difference between the Expansion of Space and the Big Bang?

The Expansion of Space refers to the continuous stretching of the fabric of the universe, causing galaxies and other celestial bodies to move further apart. This expansion is thought to have started after the Big Bang, which is a theory explaining the initial rapid expansion of the universe from a single point.

## 2. How do we know that the Expansion of Space is happening?

Scientists have observed the redshift of light from distant galaxies, which indicates that they are moving away from us. This redshift increases with distance, providing evidence for the expansion of space. The cosmic microwave background radiation, which is leftover radiation from the Big Bang, also supports the idea of an expanding universe.

## 3. Is the Expansion of Space happening at a constant rate?

No, the rate of expansion is not constant. It is believed that the expansion of space is accelerating, meaning that the galaxies are moving away from each other at an increasing rate. This is thought to be caused by dark energy, a mysterious force that makes up a large portion of the universe.

## 4. Does the Expansion of Space have an end or limit?

There is currently no evidence to suggest that the expansion of space has an end or limit. It is believed that the expansion will continue indefinitely, with galaxies becoming increasingly distant from each other. However, this is still an area of active research and our understanding may change in the future.

## 5. How does the Expansion of Space affect us on Earth?

On a small scale, the expansion of space does not have a noticeable effect. However, on a larger scale, it can affect the distribution of matter and energy in the universe. It is also thought to have played a role in the formation of galaxies and other structures in the universe. The expansion of space will also impact the future of our universe, as it will determine how the universe evolves and potentially how it ends.

Replies
10
Views
969
Replies
14
Views
3K
Replies
7
Views
1K
Replies
11
Views
2K
Replies
43
Views
4K
Replies
9
Views
2K
Replies
5
Views
1K
Replies
27
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
1K
Replies
2
Views
2K