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Universe CAGE Syllabus
summary of the evolutionary history of the universe
- Energy and matter evolved in the first few minutes of our expanding homogeneous universe
- Dark matter preserved primordial quantum density fluctuations before the universe was cool enough for ordinary matter to condense to form a cosmic web of stars and galaxies
- Ordinary matter was attracted to the dark matter cosmic web when the expanding universe cooled
- The first stars were massive, short-lived, and had none of the building blocks for rocky planets or life
- Supernovas synthesized and dispersed the building blocks for later generations of less massive, long-lived stars with rocky planets and the ingredients and conditions for life to evolve
- Our solar system, which formed from the gas and dust in a stellar nursery, includes the Sun, gas giant planets, ice giant planets, rocky planets, moons, and many more components.
The expanding universe and its particles evolve due to the gravitational influence of matter and energy. The history progesses from the Big Bang through the inflationary era, radiation-dominated era, matter-dominated era, and dark-energy-dominated era. Particles evolve due to nuclear and electromagnetic interactions. Milestones include massive particle decay, antimatter annihilation, proton and neutron reactions, Big Bang nucleosynthesis, and energy loss by photons and neutrinos.
The cosmic web forms a large scale structure due to gravitational influences. Tiny quantum fluctuations in density and temperature grow. Dark matter dominates, but cannot radiate energy away, whereas ordinary matter radiates energy away. Lower density regions of space expand more rapidly than high density regions, so lower density regions get less dense and higher density regions get denser. Later dark energy drives expansion.
Our galaxy has a dark matter halo, interstellar medium where stars are born and their remains go when they die, a stellar halo, thick and a thin stellar disks, a central bulge, and a supermassive black hole. Gravitational, electromagnetic, and strong and weak nuclear forces influence galaxy formation and evolution.
stars and stardust
Stars and stardust form and evolve due to gravitational, electromagnetic, and nuclear processes. Galactic matter facilitates star formation by gravitationally confining gas and dust. Self-gravitating gas clouds radiate energy to form bound self-gravitating stars. Stellar opacity traps heat enabling thermonuclear fusion to synthesize elements and generate photons that stabilize star structure. Core collapse supernovas, neutron star mergers, dying low mass stars, and exploding dwarf stars enrich the interstellar medium with massive elements through nuclear processes like alpha and proton capture, carbon, oxygen, and silicon burning, and rapid and slow neutron capture.
Sun and Jupiter
Stars and gas giant planets form and evolve due to gravitational and electromagnetic processes. The interstellar medium in our galaxy that was enriched by supernova explosions enabled our Sun and its planets to form. Before Jupiter could become a gas giant, it slowly accreted a massive core of rock and ice aided by its orbit beyond the Sun’s frost line. Once formed, the core rapidly captured a massive hydrogen and helium gas envelope which has been cooling for billions of years.
solid Earth and Moon
The solid Earth and its Moon co-evolved following a giant planet impact that turned Earth into a donut shaped synestia which condensed into the Earth and its exceptional Moon. The Moon receded over time due to tidal interactions, but its tidal influence on Earth may have been critical to the origin of life on Earth.
animations and illustrations
simulations and models