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Cosmology

Wow! The universe is getting bigger every day!

Cosmology is a branch of science which studies the evolution of our universe. A scientist who studies cosmology is called a cosmologist. Cosmologists want to know what the universe was like billions of years ago. They want to understand how it is today. They also want to find out what the universe will be like billions of years in the future.

To understand the universe, cosmologists first needed to know our place in it. About 400 years ago, most people believed that Earth was at the center of the universe. They thought the Moon, the Sun, and the other planets all traveled around Earth. Nicholas Copernicus, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton helped us to learn the truth. We now know that the Moon travels around Earth. Earth and the other planets in our solar system travel around the Sun.

About 100 years ago, astronomer Edwin Hubble made observations that showed the universe was getting bigger and bigger! This led most cosmologists to believe in a theory called the Big Bang. The Big Bang theory says the universe began with a huge explosion ten to twenty billion years ago. Cosmologists think the universe did not exist before the Big Bang. Some cosmologists think the universe will keep getting bigger forever. Other cosmologists think the Universe will someday start getting smaller. They think it will shrink until it no longer exists. No one knows yet which opinion is correct.

COBE satellite data
cosmic radiation everywhere in the Universe as a result of the Big Bang

Cosmologists use the data gathered by telescopes and astronomy satellites to help them understand the universe. They also use computers to model their ideas. Each new discovery helps them to understand more about the past, present, and future of our universe.

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A Question

Use one or more of the underlined words to help you fill in the blank.

People used to believe the Sun, the other planets and the Moon traveled around Earth. Today we know that only the __________________ travels around Earth.

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Did you know?
The Answer
Show me the Level 2 version of this page.

The StarChild site is a service of the High Energy Astrophysics Science Archive Research Center (HEASARC), Dr. Alan Smale (Director), within the Astrophysics Science Division (ASD) at NASA/ GSFC.

StarChild Authors: The StarChild Team
StarChild Graphics & Music: Acknowledgments
StarChild Project Leader: Dr. Laura A. Whitlock
Curator: J.D. Myers
Responsible NASA Official: Phil Newman
If you have comments or questions about the StarChild site, please send them to us.