Articles, Blog

Picture of the Big Bang (a.k.a. Oldest Light in the Universe)

If you look up at the night sky in any direction,
past all the stars and more stars and galaxies and superclusters of galaxies… you will
see light that has been traveling for 13.7 billion years to reach earth. It’s the oldest
and most primeval light in the universe, a picture of our cosmos in its hot younger years,
and it’s called the “Cosmic Background Radiation,” Of course you can’t really see this light
with your naked eyes, because it’s in the microwave band of the electromagnetic spectrum.
But it is visible to radios and radio telescopes, and even makes up a small portion of the ‘salt
and pepper’ on an analog TV. Where does this luminescent background come
from? Well, just after the big bang, the entire universe was still so small it would have
been very dense, scorchingly hot, and, because it hadn’t yet had time to get rough and uneven,
it would also have been scrumptiously smooth. For a while, things would have been so sweltering
that electrons didn’t settle down as parts of atoms or molecules but instead roamed freely
in a kind of red-hot cosmic soup. That soup would have had lots of light bouncing around
it, too, scattering off of electrons and protons like a hall of mirrors or the interior of
the sun… However, as the universe expanded, there was
less and less energy to be had in any one place.  And when things had cooled to just
below the temperature of the sun, pairs of electrons and protons no longer had the energy
to resist each other and they fell into the electromagnetic embrace we call the hydrogen
atom. These electrons were so enamored by their new proton love interests that they
effectively began to ignore all the light bouncing around them. So, with fewer free
electrons for light to interact with, the universe suddenly became transparent, and
all the pent-up light was sent forth in whatever direction it had been headed after its last
scattering, doomed to travel alone and unnoticed through the cosmos. That is, until it bumps
into something solid… When we finally see it here on earth, this
light has been stretched so much by the thirteen-billion-year expansion of space, that, like a record slowing
down, its frequency and color have shifted from the original sunlight-white all the way
to cool microwaves. Thus, it’s often called the “cosmic Microwave background radiation”,
or CMB. And just as we can tell the temperature of a red or white-hot iron from its glow,
this light tells us the temperature of empty space: currently around 2.725 degrees Kelvin,
or minus 270 degrees Celsius. However, the universe isn’t exactly 2.725
Kelvin in every direction… if we look closely, there are small and seemingly random but noticeable
bumps all over the place, kind of like milk that’s starting to curdle. Our best understanding
is that these cosmic curds formed as quantum fluctuations in the otherwise creamy infant
universe, and then began to coagulate as the universe cooled and expanded.
It’s hard to overstate just how small, or un-bumpy, these fluctuations of temperature
and density were to begin with – the hot or cold spots were hotter or colder than their
surroundings by a factor of about one in a hundred thousand – that’s like noticing that
a bacteria makes a beach ball bigger. But, while this clumping of the universe initially
resulted in small variations like the ones we see in the CMB, later on the chunky curds
of primordial soup attracted each other gravitationally, and they ultimately coagulated and coalesced
to form all of the massive structures in the universe that we see today, like planets,
stars, galaxies, and superclusters of galaxies. So when we look up at the night sky past those
galaxies and see the ancient light of the cosmic microwave background radiation, we’re
literally seeing the starting point, the proverbial cream, if you will, from which the starry
curds of the universe congealed. Or quite simply, proof that the moon really is made
of cheese. To give you a more complete experience of
how awesome the cosmic background radiation is, we’ve made an ADVENTURE! map showing it
as if it were the out-of-this-world geography of your favorite fantasy series – except it’s
really the first picture taken of our universe as a baby! We’ve included pictures of constellations
and galaxies with the map, plus an overlay of what the sky looks like in infrared. And
if you’re feeling imperial, you can help name the oceans and mountains on our map. Head
over to to start exploring!


  1. AB H Author

    This is the part I don't understand. How can we find radiation from the point of which the big bang took place, when radiation travels at the speed of light?
    I mean, how can the universe have expanded faster than light to come from the center to us(we are from my understanding not the edge of the universe) and also formed galaxies(and everything within it) before that radiation would go past us?
    It just doesn't add up for me. Would love a good explanation.

  2. fourPOdimethylT Author

    This is a lie. The Creator created all in its indescribable current form, and in trying to describe the indescribable, we have created a complex web of lies (a large portion of science).

  3. Mike Lentsch Author

    didn't hear the word "theory" or "we think" mentioned even once.  It may have unfolded this way, but we don't know.  It's a guess.  That should be made a little more evident for all the little kiddies, don't you think?  I mean, are we doing science, here, or not?

  4. Aeowyn Kendall Author

    I am a Christian and I believe that God created the universe. I also believe in the big bang and, albeit I am only in high school, I would dare say that I am a scientist.

  5. jamie oxenreider Author

    ? How is the cmr just reaching us now, It travels at C and we travel roughly 1/2C and were created at the same time, then how did we beat this radiation to are location to view it?

  6. jamie oxenreider Author

    It didn't condense it to planets and galaxies, it formed primordial stars that had to form and supernova to create the elements to form planets and other objects, in which in itself don't add up, because this would lead to bands of matter and not the fairly even disbursement we see today?

  7. Kevin Morgan Author

    My question is this. If the light left this single point that we think of as the big bang, and has been travelling since, and light moves faster than the matter would have, AND our solar system took time to form, wouldn't the light have already passed us? How would we be seeing it now, unless it was bounced back off of something to get back here? I mean we have to be in one singular direction from where the big bang happened. Unless this gas cloud was larger than the known universe even before cooling. If this is the case, then the expanding universe theory loses some traction in my mind, since the coalescence of the universe would be pulling us back in. 

  8. elizbeth ann Author

    He comes the raid of christens commenting "ummm this is all lies god made everything and every scientist is wrong and stupid, all this proof everywhere is made up so yeahhhh" lol come on guys 

  9. Alex J Brimmer Author

    Hey, so… If all that heat from "primeval light" is bouncing off all these crazy particles like a Hall of Mirrors, as you put it so eloquently, what would that look like? Would it be cloudy and colorful like the Milky Way galaxy? Would it look bright and wavy like the surface of the Sun? What did the universe in that form, billions of years ago, look like?

  10. Physics Ghost. Author

    "Now that constant explosive division expanding outward from the Sun takes about eight minutes to reach Earth.. .  .And we know the greater the energy or mass the slower time runs.. .  .The greater the energy +1=0 now -1 the shorter the wavelengths!!

    Blue light 2pi spiral radians have a higher wave amplitude +1=0 now -1 the spiral has a slightly larger Volume area scatters more then red light wavelengths.. .  .

    Red light wavelengths have a smaller wave amplitude +1=0 now -1 the spiral radians have smaller Volume area are penetrating straight through gases, dust and interference from other sources.. .  .Therefore because the spiral radians are slightly larger Volume area blue light photons have to propagate a greater distance from A to B whilst red light photons have their own unique position and momentum in space and time, obviously."    

  11. TheShamansQuestion Author

    Has the Big Bang Registry stopped now? It loads a page that wishes me to submit an application, with an email address box, but a button that says "Unsubscribe". O.o

  12. Tbear Author

    I have a question…

    So, that radiation we get from the beggining, where did it bounce?

    I mean, first, shit blew off, and the waves started moving in a straight line.

    Then the Earth formed. But that radiation had long passed. So it had to bounce to come back to Earth, right?

    But it those were the first waves, they couldn't have bounced…
    So how do we detect them?

  13. Nathan Kitteh Author

    Yes I am realizing that this video is years old but that Big Bang Registry looked really cool.  However you now need a login that you can't actually make.

    Is there a way around this or is that it? 😐

  14. Tony Spilotro Author

    Imagine you were around just after the big bang. You would be inside a slowly cooling and expanding plasma of Hydrogen and Helium ions at a temperature of trillions of degrees Kelvin. All you would 'see' is a white hot fireball, like being inside the Sun.

     After 380,000 years the temperature would have dropped to an orange hot 3,000 degrees (at a density a million times less than that found in a laboratory vacuum) and the plasma will start to turn to a neutral gas as the electrons and ions combine to form atoms for the first time.

     The gas will no longer interact with light and the entire universe will look dark. As the speed of light is finite, you will still receive radiation from the space around an intensely hot glow of invisible infra-red radiation. If you had an infrared camera you would still see the glow of the fireball which is still coming towards you from every direction.

    The heat from this radiation will gradually decrease until becoming room temperature after about 15 million years, which is when gravity started to form the seeds of galactic structures.

    Now the temperature of the radiation that is still traveling towards us from the past (from the edge of the observable universe) is 2.73 Kelvin.

  15. Ashwani Singh Chauhan Author

    I have a question or may be I am not able to understand it.

    My question is Effectively Earth would have also started its long journey from the Big Bang (Say we are at distance D from Big Bang spot) and Definitely Earth/Solar System/Milkyway are not travelling at speed of light (say velocity v). That speed has to be significantly slower than Light (speed of light c).

    So the CMB we are detecting today has reached us now must have started it journey a long time after the Big Bang. Lets say Earth took time T to reach this spot in universe. So Distance traveled by Earth and Light is Same. hence
    c.13.7 billion years = v . T
    T = (c/v) x 13.7 billion years

    Hence Big bang should have happened a long time before 13.7 Billion years.

  16. Whipsaw Author

    Life cannot come from nonlife. This is a basic scientific law which has been verified with the debunking of spontaneous generation, so we should apply this principle to incipience of the universe as well, don't you think? I want you to really think about this chicken and egg scenario. It is important to understand that it is impossible for the moon to exist without the earth, and it is impossible for the earth to exist without the sun, and for the sun to exist without our galaxy, the Milky Way, and for the Milky Way to exist without other galaxies. So, the whole universe must have been created instantaneously for it to exist, and this is exactly what God did in the beginning, as Psalm 148:5 above confirms, ‘He commanded and they were created’

  17. adam podlofsky Author

    Something I have wondered about for some time, but have never seen anything conclusive about. In mapping the variations in the CBR across the sky, does the lumpiness, or irregularity of the temperature of the CBR show any correlation at all with observable astronomical structures (galaxies or galaxy clusters)?

  18. tubedude54 Author

    First you have to convince me the big bang even happened. From my understanding the premise for the big bang supposes that all the matter in the universe was in one location… a massive singularity. If this was true it would be the largest black hole ever possible. So HOW did it 'explode'???

  19. Ali Uyar Author

    Wait, how can light be there if there wherent any atoms at the beginning. Light is formed when electrons springs from a higher energy state to a lower one in an atom

  20. Firstpo jkh Author

    What a load of shit. Problem with science is they understand alot then pretend to understand some other stuff. like what happened at the big bang if there even was a big bang as some theories suggest. there was no big bang. Now this goof is gonna tell me about the oldest light lol. This is psudeoscience and i group this nonsense with religion.

  21. Will Author

    If the universe is expanding, and that expansion is accelerating while the speed of light remains constant, does that mean that there will come a day when the expansion of the universe will sort of "outrun" the CMB and will no longer be detectable? Or is my conception of the idea just way off?

  22. DRIVECLUB-is-timeless Author

    It seems thought that the expansion of the Universe/matter creation/big bang/ happened everywhere at the same time, not at certain single point. [?]

  23. Maria Reha Author

    Maria Raha from Afghanistan: I am wondering that sinticed discovered everything faster than religions but still they don't believe to GOD?! I understand all religings have different understanding form GOD and majority believe that GOD is some thing like human or phisical body. Like sin etc.. Quran says that the GOD is the oldest light & power up there controlling everything's. That lights is energy , he guide energy with its power to come to creations by his powerful lights and power there is univers and maybe another univers. Therefore before big bang and after big bang there is only lights over lights and energy. He starts up from there cover everything and he is near from the vessel of your neck, whatever you call him GOD/Allah. Or bawan he is only the one and His powers cover all univers maybe many other universes that we don't know yet . From Musa to Jesus to Mohammed all are talking about lights and power. For reference from Quran's surah noor gives example : الله نور السموات والارض مثل نوره کمشکوات فیها مصباح…. also surah baqara etc…

  24. christian Saldaña Author

    1:16 These protons were so enamored by their new proton love interests…
    Proof humans aren't the only stuff in the Universe that fall in love.

  25. Horny Toads Author

    Who is smart enough to ANSWER this BIG QUESTION…. Space is a BIG place, and the Sun is very far. The Light from the Sun takes approx 8mins to reach us. So when we look at our sun we are in fact looking at it as it were 8 mins ago! When we look through our telescopes we are looking back in time millions of years ago! In fact we are looking BILLIONS of years into the past… So the question is How come the universe is 14.6Billion years old when in fact we can look 90billion light years into the pas? BOOM!!! I caught ur Lies NASA. space is a HOAX And earth is FLAT!


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *