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    Infinity Universe

    The continuum of the Universe
    Our universe is just a finite number of galaxies rushing away from each other inside this empty infinite space—like a solitary skyrocket exploding and sending out a doomed shower of sparks." But many cosmologists say, no, there are an infinite number of galaxies in our infinite space.

    Looking out at more and more distant objects in the Universe reveals them to us as they were farther back in time, going all the way back to before there were atoms, all the way to the Big Bang. Image credit: NASA, ESA, and A. Feild (STScI).

    Only a few hundred µK separate the hottest regions from the coldest, but the way the fluctuations correlate in scale and magnitude encodes a tremendous amount of information about the early Universe. Image credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration.

    The magnitudes of the hot and cold spots, as well as their scales, indicate the curvature of the Universe. To the best of our capabilities, we measure it to be perfectly flat. Image credit: Smoot Cosmology Group / LBL.

    The observable Universe might be 46 billion light years in all directions from our point of view, but there’s certainly more, unobservable Universe just like ours beyond that. Image credit: Wikimedia Commons users Frédéric MICHEL and Azcolvin429, annotated by E. Siegel.

    • expanding at a constant, exponential rate,
    • and creating new space so quickly that the smallest physical length scale, the Planck length, would be stretched to the size of the presently observable Universe every 10–32 seconds.

    Inflation causes space to expand exponentially, which can very quickly result in any pre-existing curved space appearing flat. Image credit: E. Siegel (L); Ned Wright’s cosmology tutorial (R).

    Inflation set up the hot Big Bang and gave rise to the observable Universe we have access to, but we can only measure the last tiny fraction of a second of inflation’s impact on our Universe. Image credit: E. Siegel, with images derived from ESA/Planck and the DoE/NASA/ NSF interagency task force on CMB research.

    If inflation is a quantum field, then the field value spreads out over time, with different regions of space taking different realizations of the field value. In many regions, the field value will wind up in the bottom of the valley, ending inflation, but in many more, inflation will continue, arbitrarily far into the future. Image credit: E. Siegel / Beyond The Galaxy.

    Wherever inflation occurs (blue cubes), it gives rise to exponentially more regions of space with each step forward in time. Even if there are many cubes where inflation ends (red Xs), there are far more regions where inflation will continue on into the future. The fact that this never comes to an end is what makes inflation ‘eternal’ once it begins. Image credit: E. Siegel / Beyond the Galaxy.

    A huge number of separate regions where Big Bangs occur are separated by continuously inflating space in eternal inflation. But we have no idea how to test, measure or access what’s out there beyond our own observable Universe. Image credit: Ozytive — public domain.

    As vast as our observable Universe is and as much as we can see, it’s only a tiny fraction of what must be out there. Image credit: NASA, ESA, R. Windhorst, S. Cohen, and M. Mechtley (ASU), R. O’Connell (UVa), P. McCarthy (Carnegie Obs), N. Hathi (UC Riverside), R. Ryan (UC Davis), & H. Yan (tOSU).

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