Astronomers accurately measure how much the universe has cooled since the Big

first_imgWhenever you dream of rising through military ranks to become the captain of your very own space battlecruiser, you probably have fantasies about telling your XO to throw a traitorous crew member out of the airlock, executing that crew member by exposing them to the harsh conditions of space. Movies tend to portray space exposure in a handful of ways: suffocation, people’s eyes or head exploding, or a flash freezing of the entire body. Astronomers took to science to explore one of those three effects, and thankfully, it didn’t have to do with suffocating people or making their eyes explode out of their heads. Rather, they used a telescope array in Australia to take the temperature of the universe.The international team of astronomers used the Australia Telescope Compact Array (ATCA) run by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO). The array is composed of six antennas, measuring in at 22 meters each. The theory of the Big Bang states that as the universe expands, the temperature cools, and the team of astronomers have now accurately found out just how much.In order to get an accurate temperature reading, the astronomers set their sights on gas from a galaxy 7.2 billion light years away from Earth, and how that gas affects the radio waves coming from an even farther galaxy. The gas absorbed some energy from the radio waves from the other galaxy, which in turn left a signature that helped the astronomers calculate a temperature: -267.92 degrees Celsius (-450.256 Fahrenheit).Because of how light can’t instantly travel across vast distances, that temperature is an accurate measurement of how cool it was when the universe was about half its current age. Currently, the universe measures in at -270.27 degrees Celsius (-454.486 Fahrenheit). The three or so degree difference between the universe now and the universe around 7 billion years ago not only shows that the universe is indeed cooling as time goes on, but provides an estimate as to how much.Though three degrees of cooling in an infinitely vast, mostly desolate wasteland may not seem like it matters very much, the accurate reading does corroborate the portion of the Big Bang theory that suggests the universe cools over time.last_img read more