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This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.' (T.S. Eliot) But how about the way the world begins? Was this the biggest bang of all? This free course will introduce you to the theory of the Big Bang and will present the three main lines of experimental evidence that support this theory.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- describe the characteristics of light emitted by stars, and hence the information of cosmological interest that can be deduced from it
- distinguish between true and false statements relevant to the distribution and motion of stars within galaxies, and of galaxies within clusters and superclusters
- outline the methods used for estimating the distances to stars and to galaxies
- explain and apply Hubble’s law
- distinguish between various sources of redshift and estimate their relative importance in a given situation.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Introducing cosmology
- 2 Radiation from the galaxies
- 3 Distances of galaxies
- 4 The variation of redshift with distance
- 5 The microwave background radiation
- 6 The angular distribution of the 3 K radiation
- 6.1 Basic isotropy
- 6.2 The effect of the motion of the Earth
- 6.3 Anisotropies in the Universe itself
- 7 The primordial nuclear abundances
- 8 Conclusion
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
Enrol to access the full course, get recognition for the skills you learn, track your progress and on completion gain a statement of participation to demonstrate your learning to others. Make your learning visible!
The Big Bang
In this course, we present the three main lines of experimental evidence pointing to the big bang origin of the Universe: (i) the recession of the galaxies; (ii) the microwave remnant of the early fireball; and (iii) the comparison between the calculated primordial nuclear abundances and the present-day composition of matter in the Universe.
A data sheet of useful information is provided as a pdf for your use. You may wish to print out a copy to keep handy as you progress through the course.
Click to open the course data sheet.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in Science.
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Physics and Astronomy courses or view the range of currently available OU Physics and Astronomy courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 2nd March 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 2nd March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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