Hubble’s Law, written by Edwin Hubble in the 1920s, describes the expansion of the Universe.
Edwin Hubble & Expansion of the Universe – Timeline
1917: Vesto Slipher discovered that the spectra of galaxies were almost always red shift (moving away). Infact, most galaxies are moving away and 2 out of 15 spirals moving at over 2 million miles per hour.
1929: Edwin Hubble derived distances to these galaxies and showed that implied recessional speed, v1, is proportional to its current distance from us
Hubble’s Law: V – H0d, where H0 is Hubble’s constant (71 km·s –¹/Mpc), v is velocity, and d is distance
The value of Hubble’s constant is how fast the Universe is expanding now; if Hubble’s constant is bigger, the Universe is expanding faster
1927: Belgian astronomer, G. Lamaitre, had a similar result, proving that the Universe is expanding
Combined Einstein’s theory of relativity with the redshifts of spiral galaxies
Published a paper on mathematical super structure connecting redshifts and expanding Universe of general relativity, but nobody noticed since he was only an obscure Belgian priest and mathematician
Universe began as a single pinpoint, a primordial soup
1998: Acceleration of the expansion of the Universe is caused by “cosmic anti-gravity” or “dark energy” (still unexplained)
Measuring Velocities of Red Shift
Light of a galaxy moving away from us will be “red-shifted,” or the wavelength gets longer
Light of a galaxy moving toward us will be “blue-shifted,” or the wavelength gets shorter
The faster the speed galaxies travel, the more the “red-shift”
Objects at the edges of galaxies tend to move faster than objects in the centers
Understanding the Expansion
Galaxies are all moving away from us: Does that mean we are at the center of the Universe?
No. There is “no” center. All points in space claim to be the center
e.g. Raisin bread rising: raising don’t expand, the space between them expands
Olbers’ Paradox— Why is the night sky dark?
In the 19th century, astronomer Wilhelm Olbers asked: If the Universe is finite, why isn’t the sky bright from starlight?
The solution is not that stars are increasing far away, but that the apparent brightness of a star decreases (1/d²), the area of shells of stars surrounding the Earth increases like d², so the effects cancel out
Another solution was that the Universe has finite size, so that not all of the light from all the stars has had time to reach us (Universe expanding); the Universe is 14 billion years old, and we only see “out” 14 billion light years distance from us
Reformulated the concept of time and space (E = mc² => special relativity)
Time is not an absolute quantity but appears to flow at a different rate depending on relative motion
Opened the road to quantum mechanics
Light “hits” like a particle
Light waves have “quantized” and “discrete” energies, depending on their wavelengths
Presented a revised theory of relativity
General relativity: space is curved
Foundation of modern cosmology
Reality of atoms and molecules in hot debate
Light poorly understood: “What was the medium light traveled in?”
Phenomena of radiation
Absorption lines in the Sun were observed, but could not be explained
Einstein helped clear these mysteries and began the era of modern physics.
Einstein’s Early Life and Career
Born in Ulm, German Empire in 1879, Albert Einstein excelled in physics and mathematics but failed in other subjects. Einstein dropped out of high school in 1895 and restarted school in Aarau, Switzerland, where he studied Maxwell’s works (~1870), which stated that electricity and magnetism obeyed the same set of physical laws — hence, electromagnetism. Einstein discovered that the velocity of light remained constant no matter the media. Although Einstein was brilliant, he irritated professors as he was too independent. In 1902, Einstein became a patent office clerk at the Swiss Patent Office in Bern. By 1905, Einstein had written six scientific papers, three of which explored the existence of molecules and the “kinetic theory.” For his other three papers, one published in March explained his light-quantum hypothesis (light hits like a particle), a fundamental step of quantum mechanics. For this, Einstein received a Nobel Prize in 1921. Another paper published in June was Einstein’s first paper on Special Relativity that explored light contraction and time dilation approaching the speed of light. In September of 1905, Einstein published his second paper on special relativity, in which he included the famous equation E = mc².
* General relativity includes gravity, while special relativity does not.
General Relativity and Special Relativity
The laws of physics are the same in all uniformly moving reference frames, or in all directions
In any uniformly moving reference frame, the velocity of light (c) is the same whether emitted by a body at rest or a body in motion
Time Dilation and Length Contraction
Time Dilation: Time itself doesn’t tick at the same rate approaching the speed of light; instead, the time synchronization veers off; so approaching the speed of light, time appears to tick much slower.
Length Contraction: The lengths of moving objects are contracted when viewed by a stationary viewer
Mass and Energy
The mass of a moving body increases compared to its “rest mass” because it takes a bigger force to accelerate
Acceleration: speed gained in a given time
An object accelerating up is smaller because of time dilation; acceleration is harder the more massive the object is
Energy is responsible for powering stars, nuclear decay, and nuclear energy
At first, the scientific community met Einstein’s special relativity theory with silence, but Max Planck, who won the Nobel Prize for explaining black body radiation, realized the importance of Einstein’s work and publicized it; from 1906, scientists took notice and visited Einstein to talk about science
Einstein’s scientific circles grew stating 1908; became associate professor in 1911 and a professor of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in 1912
Einstein’s findings demanded a new way of thinking as Newton’s Law of Gravity was only valid from speeds much smaller than light
Einstein named the “birth of special relativity” “The Step”
1907: The Equivalence Principle – gravity corresponds to acceleration
1911: Bending of light in a gravitational field, a consequence of the Equivalence Principle, could be checked with astronomical observations
1912-1915: Extend relativity to objects moving in an arbitrary way with respect to one another
1915: General Relativity “Gravity curves space”: there’s no need for the “force” of gravity; all motion is along “straight lines” in curved space-time and matter tells space how to move
Evidence: starlight bends around the Sun; Mercury’s orbit will precede at a different rate than Newton predicted
1919: Arthur Eddington leaders solar eclipse expedition and confirms special relativity
1929: Edwin Hubble observes expansion of the Universe
Friedmann said that Einstein’s equations supported an expanding Universe, but Einstein proposed the “cosmological constant” to keep the Universe static