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Question regarding about Ωbaryonic/DM/DE

  1. Apr 17, 2008 #1
    I've been confused for a very long time of how they measure and get like for example Ωmatter = 0.3 and Ωdark energy to be 0.7. I dunno how they came up with these numbers. Before they knew anything about dark energy why did they think Ω matter was 0.3 and not 0.4 or 0.5. I've been reading textbook and they show these calculation which I don't understand how they calculated critical density. Can anyone explain to me how they got the number but I don't want the explanation in math lol that'll just confuse me more XD and what it means to have critical density. Thanx!!!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 19, 2008 #2


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    They come at these numbers from several different directions, using different kinds of observations----galaxy counts, supernovae, microwave mapping etc.---and the wonder is that different ways of estimating lead to consistent results.

    I can only cover a small part of it in one post.
    A. assuming uniformity
    we assume we don't live in an exceptional part of the universe, with especially low density or high density. we assume the universe is much the same all over, the same in all directions, on largescale average

    AA. we can SEE that space is nearly flat
    Flat means that the sum of interior angles of any really large triangle has to be 180 degrees. If this weren't true, or nearly true, we would see funny optical effects. Like the number of galaxies in some patch of sky changing unexpectedly fast with distance. Flatness, or near flatness, has been checked repeatedly using various data.

    B. assuming Gen Rel is approximately right.
    GR is both a theory of gravity and a theory of spacetime geometry. It works to remarkable accuracy-----passes every test we can think of. only breaks down in extreme circumstances like in BH and BB situations. so we assume the main equation of GR relating the density of energy to the changing shape of space is correct.

    C. uniformity plus Gen Rel makes Friedmann (A+B=C)
    In 1923, Alex Friedmann took Einstein's main GR equation and by assuming uniformity found he could greatly simplify the equation. This produces the two Friedmann equations which relate the density of energy to the changing shape of space, where energy is approximately uniform. It simplifies down to issues of expansion, contraction, and overall curvature.

    D. Friedmann equations tell us Rho_crit, density in the flat case.
    The Friedmann equations come in three separate versions, for flat, and two kinds of curvature. They are simple equations and can be solved in each of the three cases. Since we can SEE spatial flatness (AA) or near flatness, we can just concentrate on that case. Solving one of the Friedmann equations tells us how to calculate what the energy density must be, in order to have spatial (near) flatness.

    This is a great result. Now anybody with a calculator can calculate the energy density of the universe! All you need to know is Newton's constant G, and the Hubble parameter H.

    3(cH)2/8 pi G.

    If you get out a calculator and plug in the speed of light, and known values of H and G, then it works out to around 0.85 joules of energy per cubic kilometer.

    E. Now all we have to do is compare that 0.85 joules with the OBSERVED density of energy-----that is the energy-equivalent of the matter we can see or can infer is there because of the stability of galaxies and clusters.

    F. Well all the matter we can see, or infer is there only amounts to about 0.20 joules per cubic kilometer, when you convert it to energy terms. That includes both ordinary matter and dark matter we infer is there in order to hold galaxies and larger cluster structures together.

    So that means either the law of gravity (B.) is wrong, or there is a diffuse non-clumping energy spread out uniformly thru space which amounts to the rest, namely 0.65 joules per cubic kilometer.

    But we DON'T HAVE ANY BETTER law of gravity. Einstein Gen Rel works to amazing accuracty in all the tests it's put thru. Until someone comes up with a radically different model of gravity, and spacetime geometry, we have to use the best theory we've got. And that means assuming this dark energy figure of about 0.65 joules per cubic kilometer.

    G. And also there is by remarkable coincidence some independent evidence for dark energy. Supernova observations seem to indicate that expansion is accelerating by the amount that would be caused if there were a constant 0.65 joules per cubic kilometer of dark throughout all space.

    I think it is useless to ask for a purely nonmathematical explanation, because all this comes out of the math. Probably the Friedmann equations are the central feature. All cosmology is based on them----that is, based on the simplification of the Gen Rel equation that you get by assuming uniformity.

    The basic model has been painstakingly checked ever since 1923 in every detail, repeatedly. It fits reams and reams of data, and continues to be the best we've got.

    There must be some popular book you can read about this. Maybe someone can suggest one.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2008
  4. Apr 19, 2008 #3


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    I have reams and reams of data for a food production line, these are actual recorded figures, but they are totally worthless as they assume perfect input, they are totally false when compared to reality, how do you get past the real and imaginary?
  5. Apr 21, 2008 #4
    hmmm ok so how do they know that when critical density is 1 the universe is flat, why would this happen? Why couldn't critical density be like below 1 or above 1 to be flat? Are these all guesses? I know about the triangle adding to 180 which proves the universe is flat but as you inflate the balloon like you do for the universe you can see that the surface will get flatter but the balloon is still closed so......yea I dunno if I make sense lol. Just that the critical density is hard to get!
  6. Apr 21, 2008 #5


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    This isn't true. When the density of the universe is equal to the critical density, then the universe is flat; the critical density isn't equal to one (in general). I think you're confusing this with the omega parameter, which measure the ratio of the density of the universe to the critical density. Clearly, when this is equal to one, the universe is at critical density and thus flat.
  7. Apr 21, 2008 #6
    By studying the angular size of anisotropies in the cosmic background radiation from WMAP, the conclusion is that space is flat (or so nearly close to it that it's impossible to tell). If space on the whole were positively curved, the anisotropies would appear to be smaller, and vice versa for negatively curved space (it may be the other way around, my mind is lost today).

    By studying the average luminosity of galaxies within a portion of space, and by studying the deviation of orbit velocity in galaxies from general relativity, the amount of normal and dark matter within the universe can be calculated. When they are added up, they do not provide enough of a gravitational source to counteract the current Hubble expansion rate.

    However, since it's apparent from the WMAP data that there is enough of a gravitational source within the universe to counteract the expansion of the universe (ex: space is flat), the remainder is taken to be dark energy (a "snuffalufagus" of stress-energy, in terms of Sesame Street).
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2008
  8. Apr 21, 2008 #7


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    The critical density is DEFINED to be the density needed to make the universe spatially flat.
    that is what it means.

    that Omega number you mentioned is just the ratio of the real density divided by the crit.
    So saying that Omega = 1 is just another way of saying that the two densities are equal---that is, that real density equals crit density.

    Look back at my post, where step B is assume that we have an adequate theory of gravity, that our theory of spacetime geometry is OK. General Relativity. It is amazingly good. So it you believe it is giving the right answers then we can CALCULATE what critical density has to be, given the current rate of expansion!

    And because of what was just said about the CMB map and all, we can SEE that it is flat or nearly so. So therefore it is straight logic that the real density must be equal to what we calculate for critical density!

    Does that work for you? It seems obvious to me.
  9. Apr 21, 2008 #8
    yea now I get it when you said about the "The critical density is DEFINED to be the density needed to make the universe spatially flat." Thanks
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