(Submitted October 30, 2003)
In a article I saw that the size of the Universe was 18 Million LYs
across after only 780,000 years. Could you explain how the Universe
got so big after just a short amount of time? Is it relativistic in
nature? I also saw an article that stated the Universe was a few
kilometers across just microseconds after the "big Bang" occured.
Could you explain this anomaly? Thank you.
What you are referring to is called "Inflation." In an early time
after the Big Bang, there is evidence that the universe expanded at speeds
greater than light. But special relativity was not violated, because this
was an expansion of SPACE and no matter or information was carried between
two points at faster than light speed. General relativity allows
inflation to be incorporated into Big Bang cosmology.
For more on this, check out these other answers on our site:
Amy C. Fredericks and Michael Loewenstein
for "Ask an Astrophysicist"