Why is the sky blue? (No pun intended) Also why does the universe look black?
hellfire said:This is known as [URL [Broken] paradox[/url]. There are other solutions to Olbers’ paradox, but the finite age of the universe is the most important one.
hellfire said:The night sky is dark because of the finite age of the universe. In a spatially infinite and eternal universe with an homogeneous distribution of stars (of any density) the night sky would glow, as there is a contribution of infinite stars to the flux of light measured at every point (the flux integral diverges at every point). This is known as [URL [Broken] paradox[/url]. There are other solutions to Olbers’ paradox, but the finite age of the universe is the most important one.
We do not know whether the universe is finite or infinite in space, but we know it had an origin in time (the big-bang). If the universe had an origin in time the light we receive at night can be only due to a finite number of stars (as the speed of light is finite).Here is an analogy. Imagine standing in the middle of a large, mature oak forest that itself sits in a vast grassland plain. Let's assume it is late autumn and the trees are leafless. For a given average number of standing trees per acre, the further the forest stretches away from you, the fewer gaps you can see between the trunks of the trees to the plains and horizon outside the forest. For a sufficiently large forest your view to the outside becomes fully blocked, and everywhere you look, as far as you can see, your sight line runs into a tree. You'll agree, too, that denser forests need not be as large in extent before your view to the outside is blocked. Let's call this distance at which your view to the outside just becomes filled with tree trunks the lookout limit. Interchange tree trunks with stars and you have yourself an awfully bright sky.
Obviously, we don't live in a blast furnace. So what's gone wrong? For starters, one or more of our assumptions we (and many others) made is wrong. There is also one more important concept related to this paradox: as you gaze up at the sky, you look out into space and back into time, simply because the speed of light is a finite quantity.
The answer depends on the assumptions. If we forget about expansion of space: If the distribution of stars would be always uniform (with the same number of stars per unit of volume), then you are right. However stars will not last forever, star formation in galaxies will stop and all stars will die.QuantumTheory said:does this mean oneday space will not look black but different colors?
The expansion of space alone would be enough to solve Olbers paradox in an infinite universe which expands with constant Hubble parameter. However, I am not sure which one of both (expansion or finite age) actually contributes more to solve Olbers' paradox in our current universe. I guess it should not be difficult to make realistic calculations for the “finite age + no expansion” case, but for the “eternal + expansion” case (de-Sitter model) the flux integral should be difficult and may be without analytic solution (flux depends on redshift and redshift on distance…).Chronos said:setAI's solution using expansion is attractive, but, also runs into similar problems in an infinitely old universe.