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The Big Bang

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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.

By: The Open University

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The Big Bang


Unit image

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 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

This OpenLearn course provides a sample of Level 3 study in Science.

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