Question about the expansion of space.

  • Thread starter 2sin54
  • Start date
  • #1
109
1
Hi. So if the space in the Universe is expanding, does that mean that the space existing between me and my monitor, or the space between object A and object B is also expanding in some sense?
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
mathman
Science Advisor
7,901
460
The expansion refers to the space between galaxies. Within galaxies, gravity and electromagnetic force hold things together.
 
  • #3
222
11
The expansion refers to the space between galaxies. Within galaxies, gravity and electromagnetic force hold things together.
Perhaps with a qualification... If I understand it right, there are some closer galaxies in our region which form a thing called the "Local Group", which are called that because they are close enough that their gravity keeps them together. Is that right?
 
  • #4
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
443
Perhaps with a qualification... If I understand it right, there are some closer galaxies in our region which form a thing called the "Local Group", which are called that because they are close enough that their gravity keeps them together. Is that right?
This is correct. Basically, using General Relativity we can both predict that overall there will either be expansion or contraction (empirically, it's expansion), but that locally dense regions (whether a solar system, a galaxy, a galaxy cluster, or larger object) will tend to stay stable.
 
  • #5
17
0
Hi. So if the space in the Universe is expanding, does that mean that the space existing between me and my monitor, or the space between object A and object B is also expanding in some sense?
In a word yes.
 
  • #6
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
443
In a word yes.
Um, no. As already explained, local objects do not expand in a universe that is (on average) expanding.
 
  • #7
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,196
2,687
The expansion "force" is extremely weak - far weaker than gravity. Anything gravitationally bound will overcome it. The only circumstances where objects are weakly bound enough for the expansion to overcome gravity are in the vast open spaces between galactic clusters.

Imagine a bunch of pennies glued to a balloon. If you inflate the balloon, you would not expect the pennies to tear apart into dust. It is apparent that the forces holding a penny together vastly outstrip the strength of the glue.
 
  • #8
17
0
Um, no. As already explained, local objects do not expand in a universe that is (on average) expanding.
Could you point me to where it says this?
 
  • #9
17
0
The expansion "force" is extremely weak - far weaker than gravity. Anything gravitationally bound will overcome it. The only circumstances where objects are weakly bound enough for the expansion to overcome gravity are in the vast open spaces between galactic clusters.

Imagine a bunch of pennies glued to a balloon. If you inflate the balloon, you would not expect the pennies to tear apart into dust. It is apparent that the forces holding a penny together vastly outstrip the strength of the glue.
To the contrary it is gravity that is weak.When I hear of galaxy's speeding away from us at near the speed of light powered by inflation I think of an extremely strong force. Nothing to do with the strong force (gluons) holding protons & neutrons together and how would you know that the penny isn't expanding anyway? What would be your measuring stick? Relative to what? Because you would be expanding along with it! Actually I think there are just too many assumptions on this subject right now and I think it would be wise to wait for the evidence to come in on dark energy ect...
 
  • #10
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,196
2,687
To the contrary it is gravity that is weak.
True. And the cosmological expansion is weaker.

When I hear of galaxy's speeding away from us at near the speed of light powered by inflation I think of an extremely strong force.
An extremely weak force can produce quite an effect when it accumulates. With mass, like gravity. With distance, like CE.


Nothing to do with the strong force (gluons) holding protons & neutrons together and how would you know that the penny isn't expanding anyway?
Not relevant to the current discussion.
Actually I think there are just too many assumptions on this subject right now and I think it would be wise to wait for the evidence to come in on dark energy ect...
Agreed. You should wait until you know more. There are plenty of books on the subject. :tongue:
 
  • #11
17
0
I have been interested in this subject for over 60 years and I have read a lot of books on it over that time I think that my conclusion of the assumptions is as good as anyone elses,maybe you need to read more on the subject because there are a lot more alternative views to yours or mine.
 
  • #12
367
3
I have been interested in this subject for over 60 years and I have read a lot of books on it over that time I think that my conclusion of the assumptions is as good as anyone elses,maybe you need to read more on the subject because there are a lot more alternative views to yours or mine.
Bluey,

You really should listen to what people here have to say. Your 60 years of reading is pretty irrelevant as much of the current cosmological consensus has come in recent years.

It is pretty clear that while gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces it can also be the strongest given certain circumstance.

It is also pretty clear (from the years of evidence and reams and reams of data) that expansion on a cosmoligcal scale only affects bodies of mass that are not gravitationally bound strongly enough - such as expansion on scales larger than the local group.

We could all do with reading more but remember some of the people who comment on this forum are experts in there field and they will echo the points that are being made.
 
  • #13
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
443
Could you point me to where it says this?
Unfortunately, I don't know of any popular sources that describe this, but it comes from the perturbation theory expansion of a homogeneous, isotropic universe, and is in any standard, modern cosmology textbook.
 
  • #14
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
16,740
7,428
I have been interested in this subject for over 60 years and I have read a lot of books on it over that time I think that my conclusion of the assumptions is as good as anyone elses,maybe you need to read more on the subject because there are a lot more alternative views to yours or mine.
As Cosmic Novice said, your attack on Dave is a reflection of your own ignorance. Dave is a very helpful contributor on this forum and he DOES know what he's talking about.

By the way, when I say "ignorance" I do not mean to be rude and I certainly do NOT mean "stupid". We're all ignorant on lots of stuff but on this particular subject, Dave's level of ignorance is way less than yours.
 
  • #15
cmb
868
43
The expansion refers to the space between galaxies. Within galaxies, gravity and electromagnetic force hold things together.

This makes no sense, as written.

Whatever laws/processes of physics are at work between Galaxies are also at work between him and his monitor.

I do not see how you could possibly dispute this, else questions like 'where is the boundary of a Galaxy' and 'how small can a Galaxy be before it is counted as being 'between' other Galaxies', and such like.

Laws of physics are Universal, not Galactic. This is harking back to days before the 'crystal spheres' was blown up as explaining why astronomical bodies hang in the sky without falling down!!! Whaat!?! The same gravity is at work here on earth as it is in the heavens!?!? Preposterous!!!

I suspect visitors to Westminster Abbey are currently wondering what that scraping noise is - as Newton rolls in his grave!?
 
  • #16
cmb
868
43
It is pretty clear that while gravity is the weakest of the fundamental forces it can also be the strongest given certain circumstance.
I think you meant to say '..but it can also be the dominant force, given...&c.'.

It cannot be both the weakest and the strongest, simultaneously!
 
  • #17
cmb
868
43
Hi. So if the space in the Universe is expanding, does that mean that the space existing between me and my monitor, or the space between object A and object B is also expanding in some sense?
I think the most informative answer, at this level of question, would be to say; 'yes, the same physics is at work, but the effects of the expansion of space are so small on the you-monitor scale that it would be impossible to discriminate them, by orders of magnitude, over local effects'.
 
  • #18
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
443
I think the most informative answer, at this level of question, would be to say; 'yes, the same physics is at work, but the effects of the expansion of space are so small on the you-monitor scale that it would be impossible to discriminate them, by orders of magnitude, over local effects'.
Well, no, the effects of the expansion are simply not there when you have a gravitationally-bound system. If you place a gravitationally-bound system, such as a solar system, inside a space-time which is, overall, expanding, its behavior just doesn't change.

Dark energy does change things slightly, because dark energy actually does add an extra repulsive force between objects based upon distance. But its effect is so small for gravitationally-bound systems that we just don't care for most situations (though it does have a significant impact on the sizes of systems that eventually do become bound, so that our most sensitive proposed test of dark energy is observing how systems join together over time to form larger bound systems).
 
  • #19
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,196
2,687
I think the most informative answer, at this level of question, would be to say; 'yes, the same physics is at work, but the effects of the expansion of space are so small on the you-monitor scale that it would be impossible to discriminate them, by orders of magnitude, over local effects'.
No. It's not true.

If it were true, that means that the expansion would also be happening at larger (but still sub-intergalactic) scales. It would mean we would detect that the galaxies themselves are expanding along with space. They're not. Which also means anything smaller (more strongly bound) than galaxies are also not expanding.

The expansion only takes over where gravity is virtually zero to many decimals - in the voids between whole clusters of galaxies.

[D'oh. Chalnoth beat me.]
 
  • #20
phinds
Science Advisor
Insights Author
Gold Member
16,740
7,428
This makes no sense, as written.
Actually it makes perfectly good sense.

Whatever laws/processes of physics are at work between Galaxies are also at work between him and his monitor.
Indeed they are. The dark energy "force" or whatever it is, is so incredibly weak that it is trivially easy for gravity to overcome it anywhere near large bodies.

Your saying that this doesn't make sense, or implies different laws of physics is the same as saying that a kid pushing on a tank doesn't move the tank but that If the kid were pushing on his little red wagon, he would move the wagon so you object that he should be able to move the tank.

Different level forces produce different results.

The fact that far distant galaxies are receeding from us FTL makes lots of folks think that dark energy is very strong and would have a noticible local effect. Not true.

I heard it best said once like this: Even though the universe is expanding, it's still going to be hard to find a parking place. Sounds silly, but the point behind it is this. If you magically draw parking space lines in intergalactic space, how long does it take before there's room for another car? The answer is billons of years. BUT when you add up all those unbelieveable scadzillions of parking space sized areas over billions of light years, the result is amazing.

The result between a guy and his monitor would be infinitesimal but non-zero if it were not for gravity, but because of gravity, it is zero
 
  • #21
cmb
868
43
The result between a guy and his monitor would be infinitesimal but non-zero if it were not for gravity, but because of gravity, it is zero
How much gravity do you need, then, for this effect to go from non-zero to zero? Any gravity? Are you saying there are spaces with no gravity acting, whatsoever, in it?
 
  • #22
cmb
868
43
If you place a gravitationally-bound system, such as a solar system, inside a space-time which is, overall, expanding, its behavior just doesn't change.
Ah, I see. So the Universe is not gravitationally-bound, and the Galaxies have no forces tending them to collapse back together. Is that right?
 
  • #23
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,196
2,687
How much gravity do you need, then, for this effect to go from non-zero to zero? Any gravity? Are you saying there are spaces with no gravity acting, whatsoever, in it?
cmb, glue a penny to the ceiling. By your logic, gravity would pull on the penny regardless of the penny's internal forces, and eventually stretch the penny toward the floor.

No. Gravity is acting on the penny's lower surface but we do not witness the penny stretching to the floor as gravity works on it (yes, even if we wait a very, very long time). The penny's internal forces easily overcome gravity. It does not mean gravity does not apply, it simply means it is overwhelmed.

Likewise, I take you back to the pennies-on-a-balloon model. By your logic, the expanding balloon would stretch out the pennies as it acted upon every copper molecule that was glued to the balloon. Why does the penny not stretch? Because the forces binding copper atom to copper atom are far stronger than the glue binding copper atom to balloon.
 
Last edited:
  • #24
DaveC426913
Gold Member
19,196
2,687
Ah, I see. So the Universe is not gravitationally-bound, and the Galaxies have no forces tending them to collapse back together. Is that right?
Gravity extends to infinity. All paricles in the universe are attracted to all other particles. They experience gravitational effects, though it is not enough to overcome their outward movement. It is at this point that cosmological expansion overwhelms gravity.
 
  • #25
Chalnoth
Science Advisor
6,195
443
cmb, glue a penny to the ceiling. By your logic, gravity would pull on the penny regardless of the penny's internal forces, and eventually stretch the penny toward the floor.

No. Gravity is acting on the penny's lower surface but we do not witness the penny stretching to the floor as gravity works on it (yes, even if we wait a very, very long time). The penny's internal forces easily overcome gravity. It does not mean gravity does not apply, it simply means it is overwhelmed.
I don't entirely like this analogy, though, because it is gravity that is both holding galaxies together and affecting how quickly they move away from one another.

The basic, basic picture here is that overall, you have a big universe that is, on large scales, smooth and uniform. The mutual gravity of all of the matter in the universe wants to slow this expansion down.

Now, in slightly more detail, some bits of the universe are more dense than other bits. It isn't entirely smooth. This means that some bits, having more matter, are better at slowing down the (local) expansion than other bits. If it turns out that there is enough local matter, then the mutual gravity is enough to not only slow down the local expansion, but cause the local system to collapse in on itself, forming a gravitationally-bound system. The overall, large-scale expansion still goes on, but the local gravity is enough to stop it in certain parts of the universe.

Of course, as I mentioned earlier, dark energy changes this somewhat as it adds an extra repulsive force, and this does have an impact on how big things can be and still end up bound together. But this effect is small on the scale of galaxy clusters and even smaller on anything smaller than a galaxy cluster.
 

Related Threads on Question about the expansion of space.

Replies
23
Views
3K
  • Last Post
Replies
1
Views
2K
Replies
7
Views
3K
Replies
3
Views
2K
Replies
11
Views
2K
  • Last Post
4
Replies
93
Views
13K
Replies
7
Views
2K
Replies
5
Views
2K
  • Last Post
Replies
19
Views
4K
Replies
17
Views
711
Top