(Submitted February 11, 1998)
What is the amount of energy released
in the Big Bang. Expressed in tons of
dynamite or H-bombs, etc.
Energy wasn't "released" per se - it's still contained within the event
** is an exponent - ie x**2 means x squared.
* is a multiplication symbol
/ is a division symbol
The total mass-energy content of the universe today is of the order of
the critical density,
3 x H0**2/(8*pi*G) = 5 x 10**(-30) g/cm**3,
times the volume contained within the present event horizon,
where R = the event horizon = c * T (speed of light * age of Universe ) =
3 x 10**10 cm/s x (2/3)*(c/H0). Here H0 is the Hubble constant, assumed
to be around 50 km/s/Mpc and Omega = 1 (critical deceleration). For this
value of H0, 1/H0 = (app) 20 billion years, making the current age of the
Universe about 2/(3*H0) = 13 billion years, so that
R = (app.) 1.3 x 10**28 cm,
which should be equivalent to 13 billion light-years (1.3 x 10**10 y x
10**13 km/y x 10**5 cm/km).
This gives a total mass-energy mass of about 4.4 x 10**55 grams,
equivalent to about 2.6*10**79 protons. The energy equivalent (E = m*c**2)
of these protons is about 2.5x10**79 GeV or 2.5x10**88 eV * 1.6x10**-19 J/eV
= 4x10**69 Joules.
One ton of TNT releases 4.2 x 10**9 Joules. Thus the energy equivalent of
the mass=energy of the universe is about 9.5 x 10**53 Megatons of TNT.
This is greater than the mass-energy of the universe, but only because
the chemical process involved in exploding TNT is vastly less efficient
that E = m*c**2.
for Ask an Astrophysicist
(with help from Mark Kowitt, Mike Corcoran, and Leonard Garcia)