OF THE UNIVERSE
February 17, 2000
Abstract This paper presents a new theory of the universe
which updates the Big Bang Theory, and explains more of the
phenomena that have been observed over the past 120 years.
Since this paper was first posted on this website the first results
of the orbiting Chandra X-ray Observatory and the XMM-Newton Observatory
have been made public. These results dramatically confirm many of
the key assumptions and conclusions of the new theory.
Since the 1880's, scientists have observed that light coming from
distant stars has a red shift, indicating that those stars are moving
away from us at high speeds. In the 1920's Belgian astronomer
Georges LeMaître proposed the theory that the universe was created
by a huge explosion, and that all the matter in the universe is still
flying away from that explosion at enormous speeds.
This idea was dubbed the Big Bang Theory by George Gamow circa 1930.
The Big Bang Theory explains why stars in every direction show
this red shift. The theory assumed that the Earth is located close
to the gravitational center of the universe, which is the presumed site
of the Big Bang. So objects speeding away from that explosion will also
be speeding away from Earth at roughly the same speed in all directions.
There are, however, several things that the Big Bang Theory does not
explain, such as the distribution of matter in the universe, pulsars,
the apparent lack of anti-matter, the lack of sufficient mass to hold galaxies
together, the seeming acceleration in the rate the universe is expanding, and
the discovery of objects that are apparently older than the Big Bang. The
purpose of the paper is to present a more comprehensive theory of the
universe which explains all of these observations.
THE BIG BANG THEORY
The Big Bang Theory holds that everything in the universe, stars,
galaxies, radiation, interstellar gas, everything was created in one
huge explosion. Since that time all of the matter in the universe is
hurtling outward at speeds that increase with the distance from the
site of the explosion, and which approach the speed of light for the
most distant objects.
There are several versions of the Big Bang Theory, but in its
purest form, all the matter and energy in the universe suddenly sprang
into existence at some point estimated to be about 13.7 billion years ago.
This matter and energy instantaneously came into being, forming a mass
no bigger than a proton. Prior to that instant, nothing existed, no matter,
no energy, not even empty space or time itself.
The Big Bang Theory explains the red shift, and also some of
the background radiation that has been observed. But it explains
little else. In particular, it fails to explain why the matter
in the universe is distributed so unevenly.
THE MANY BANG THEORY
The new Many Bang Theory holds that explosions on all scales
occur continually. Under the influence of gravity, matter collects
at many points throughout the universe, and explodes when certain
triggering events occur. Such events may be collisions with other
objects, or reaching certain densities where state changes occur.
The Big Bang is just one of many explosions. Simply because it
happened relatively close to us, people tend to think it was the
single great formative event of all matter and energy.
Under this new theory, the universe has always existed, and space
extends outward forever. Matter is distributed throughout the universe,
far beyond what we can now observe. Matter condenses under the force
of gravity to form all of the structures that have been observed,
from stars, to galaxies, to vast filaments containing billions of galaxies.
There is a continuum from diffuse gas clouds which coalesce into stars
which collapse, blowing off their outer layers and leaving dense neutron stars,
which continue to collect matter, becoming black holes.
There is a continuum of masses, from gas to dust, rocks, planets,
stars, up to supermassive black holes. These objects change state as they
coalesce under the influence of gravity. For example, when a planet
becomes large and dense enough, it may heat up and change from a solid
to a liquid sate, and then to a gaseous state. If these changes are sudden
the result may be an explosion.
WHY A NEW THEORY?
The newest telescopes have allowed us to glimpse galactic
clusters more than 13 billion light years from earth. The apparent
distance of such objects is one of the primary indicators of the
age of the universe. The universe must be at least as old as the
amount of time it took light from these objects to reach us.
Objects that are very far away are receding from us at
extremely high speeds. This causes the light from the objects
to shift in wavelength. Light of a given wavelength will appear
stretched out, that is, the wavelength will be longer. This lengthening
is called the Doppler effect, or the red shift, since red has the
longest wavelength of any visible light. We know that certain chemical
elements, such as hydrogen, emit light with known frequencies. We also know
the general composition of stars, primarily hydrogen and helium. Thus
we can compare these known frequencies against the observed light. The faster
the object is moving away, the greater this lengthening becomes. This tells us
the speed of the object, and the speed tells us the distance.
Each time an extemely distant object is sighted, we need to revise
the age of the universe upwards. For example, suppose we observe a
galactic cluster 13 billion light years away, and receding at a speed
of 0.75 times the speed of light. If that object had been created by
the Big Bang, then we know that the object took a bit over
17 billion years to reach that position, so the universe
must be at least 17 billion years old.
However, since the light from that object took 13 billion years to
reach us, we know that 13 billion years ago the object was 13 billion
light-years away, hence 17 billion years old, so it is now 30 billion
There is a widespread theory that tries to explain away these very
old objects by saying that, since the object is moving away at ¾ the
speed of light, the light coming towards us is only traveling at ¼
the speed of light, and so the object is only ¼ as far away as it
This theory ignores the results of the famous Michelson-Morley
experiments, which are some of the major underpinnings of relativity.
Michelson and Morley discovered that light always travels at the
same speed, regardless of the speed of the source or the speed
of the observer. The absurdity becomes even more apparent if you imagine
an object so far away that its speed of recession is 99% the speed of light.
Under this theory, that object would then be considered to be only 1%
as distant as it appears, hence only 1/25 as far away as an object whose
speed is ¾ the speed of light.
There seems to be no limit to the process of discovery. Every time
a new stronger telescope is deployed we find more distant objects than ever
before, and the size and age of the universe need to be revised upwards.
WAS THERE A BIG BANG?
Recently, radiation that is consistent with a Big Bang about
13 billion years ago was detected. This is strong direct evidence
for the Big Bang. Nonetheless, there appear to be objects in the universe
that must be older than the Big Bang. We need to find a framework that
accommodates both evidence.
There are two theories that can account for both the Big Bang
and older objects. The first is the Oscillating Universe theory, namely that
the universe periodically expands, then contracts, and explodes again.
This would mean that objects older than the Big Bang could have arisen
from earlier bangs. The second is the Many Bang theory, namely that
the Big Bang is just one of many explosions at many sites, and the objects
could have originated at any of many different sites and times.
Under the oscillating theory, all of the bangs would have occurred at
the gravitational center of the universe, at roughly even intervals of
several billion years. The Many Bang theory allows for bangs at widely
spaced locations with irregular timing, but does not preclude multiple
explosions at the same site.
Let us imagine for a moment what took place at the time of
the Big Bang. Matter was flung outward in every direction, with varying
degrees of force, depending on where in the explosion's nucleus it originated.
This means that matter would be spewed out at a wide range of speeds. Objects
near Earth have very little shift in their light, and therefore are moving
slowly (or, rather, are moving away from the center at close to our own
speed). Objects extremely distant from Earth have been observed speeding
away at more than three-quarters the speed of light.
Now, suppose that there is sufficient mass in the universe to pull all of
that matter back to the center, in order to form the nucleus of another
big bang. Matter would reach the center at different times, depending
on how far away it was, and how fast it had been speeding away.
If it were necessary for all of the matter in the universe to be
gathered in one spot in order to cause the next bang, then we would have
a pure oscillating universe, called a steady-state universe, with the bangs
almost evenly spaced, and of about the same intensity each time.
A steady-state universe can be pretty much dismissed out of hand.
No matter how much matter there is in the universe, and how strong
its gravitational pull, there is some velocity, called the escape velocity,
beyond which an object could never be pulled back.
Some of the matter in any explosion comparable to the big bang is certain
to be ejected faster than this escape velocity, no matter how high
that velocity may be.
That means that each bang would be smaller than the last one.
Actually, the steady-state oscillating universe is just a special case
of the many bang universe.
It requires many bangs, but all the big ones occur at the same place.
As we have just seen, this particular case is unlikely.
Stars periodically explode. The explosions are called supernovas,
and many have been observed. The brightest are visible to the naked eye,
and a few have even been visible in daylight. The remains of these explosions
are called nebulas, and some can be seen with relatively low-powered
home telescopes. Some of the best-known are the Orion Nebula, the Crab
Nebula and the Horsehead Nebula.
A much bigger explosion, dubbed a hypernova, was detected all around
the globe in Dec. 1997. This 2-second burst of gamma radiation was
described as being as bright as the entire rest of the universe. Simple
logic suggests that such explosions probably occur between once every 10 years,
and once every 1000 years. (If they were more frequent than every 10 years
we would have seen more than one; if less often than every 1000 years
there is little chance that we would have seen any in the mere 40 years
that we have been capable of detecting them.)
The key point here is that explosions of differing sizes occur, so
that the amount of matter needed to trigger one cannot be fixed, and
must be far less than the total matter in the universe, or even the
total matter in a single galaxy.
OK, so there have been many explosions of various sizes at numerous
places. Can we extrapolate that to say that there have been many big bangs?
If the most distant objects that we can see originated from some big bang,
and if they are older than our Big Bang, then we can certainly conclude
that there have been at least 2 big bangs.
(This does not mean that the other bang occurred at the same place as the
first one, though, so this does not support the steady-state universe theory.)
Since we have no estimated date for the previous big bang, and since
we can't see anything whose origin seems to be much more than twice the
13 billion years since our Big Bang, the existence of these older objects
is not adequate evidence for more than two.
(Note that the
preceding big bang would probably have occurred considerably more than
13 billion years before the most recent one. Since most of the matter from
the last bang is still heading outward, and most of the matter is traveling
slower than the escape velocity, that means that for most objects 13 billion
years is less than the halfway point when gravity starts pulling it back.)
There is additional strong evidence for the Many Bang theory. This
evidence comes from the distribution of matter in the universe.
Two aspects of this distribution favor the Many Bang Theory.
First, much of the matter
we can see appears to be concentrated in spherical shells,
or bubbles. This distribution is precisely what would be expected from
many bangs. Second, the very unevenness of the distribution can best be
explained by the Many Bang Theory.
Each time any bang occurs, matter is spewn out in every direction. Over
time, gravity pulls it back towards the point of the explosion. Matter
ejected relatively slowly, which therefore remained close to the explosion
site would have been pulled back long ago. Matter ejected rapidly, and thus
further away, will have been slowed less. Some of it will still be moving
away, while some will have begun to fall back towards the gravitational
There is a roughly spherical front where material ejected from the
explosion will have slowed to zero velocity. Matter beyond the front will
still be moving outward. The further from the front, the faster it will
be moving. Matter within the front will be falling back towards the center.
The closer to the center, the faster it will be moving. Matter close to
the front will be moving slowly, either inward or outward. Thus, in the region
of the front, matter will be densest. Matter much further out will be
moving much faster, and therefore will be sparse.
The uneven distribution of matter in the universe is sometimes
described as "lumpiness." The Big Bang Theory has great difficulty
accounting for such lumpiness. If the big bang originated in a tiny
homogeneous speck of matter, then the universe should be similarly
homogeneous. Gravity alone cannot account for all the clumping and
clustering that we observe.
Under the Many Bang Theory, the nucleus for each explosion is
built up from many objects, such as stars, gas clouds, perhaps entire
galaxies, that are captured by gravity. As these objects are gathered,
it takes time for them to be absorbed and converted into the superdense
state of the nucleus. Eventually, gravity would return the nucleus
to a perfectly spherical shape (or, perhaps ovoid, if it is spinning
rapidly) and symmetric distribution, but such extremely dense matter
may flow very slowly, so that the nucleus is always in a lumpy unbalanced
When the explosion occurs, the unevenness of the distribution
will result in uneven spreading of the force, and an uneven distribution
of the resulting matter. After that, gravity will form the remnants
into the various disks, strings and clusters that we observe.
Another phenomenon that gives credence to the Many Bang theory
These are objects that give off pulses of light at regular intervals.
The conventional explanation of pulsars is that they are neutron stars
spinning rapidly and giving off a pulse of energy on each rotation, typically
a few milliseconds up to a few days.
However, there is a big hole in this theory.
The problem is, why does the neutron star radiate energy in
only one direction, like a turning lighthouse beacon?
If a neutron star were a homogeneous spheroid of neutrons, then any
distribution of charge within the neutron star should be symmetric around
its axis of rotation, and therefore its electromagnetic field also
should be symmetric around the axis of rotation.
There is no reason to assume that it has some "energy geyser" on its
surface that spews out a plume of radiation.
After all, the earth has a magnetic field, yet no satellite has ever detected
any such earthly pulses.
The Many Bang theory offers several much better explanation for pulsars.
Over the past few decades thousands of objects called
"black holes" have been detected. These are objects so extremely dense
and massive that their gravity prevents anything, even light or other
electromagnetic radiation from escaping. Although black holes do not emit
light, an object being captured by a black hole
may be ripped apart by its gravity, and therefore give off bursts of
radiation. Many such bursts have been detected, so we know that black holes
must be very numerous.
(The latest estimate is that there at least 300 billion.)
It is theorized that there is a massive black hole near the center
of every galaxy, but black holes have also been detected far from
the galactic centers.
Black holes are formed by gravity pulling together a great deal of
matter at a single point. Once a dense center forms, the capture of matter
accelerates as the gravity increases.
Both black holes and neutron stars continually capture matter through
When a large object is being sucked in, it may plunge straight in, or it may
spiral in, depending on its motion before capture.
When such an object spirals in, the gravity of the nucleus (ie., black hole
or neutron star) will rip it apart.
Also, as its speed increases, relativistic forces will compact the object
in the direction of its travel.
These processes may result in a continuous release of radiation.
Much of this radiation will also be captured by the nucleus
but some radiation released in a radial direction away from the center
When that direction is pointing towards the earth, we can detect it.
So, each time the object reaches the point in its orbit where the escaping
radiation points towards earth, we see a burst or flash.
The process could continue even after the object has been captured.
It may take time for the matter in the captured object to be compressed
into the superdense form of a neutron star or black hole, and then
to disperse into the core of the nucleus.
While this is happening there may be a lump on or just below the surface of
the nucleus where the object's atoms are being compressed down to pure neutrons
or denser forms and this process may radiate a huge amount of energy.
Even if the capturing object is a black hole, for a time part of the captured
object could remain outside the event horizon, allowing radiation to escape.
This would also explain why some pulsars flash with two distict periods.
They are capturing two objects simultaneously, one closer with a fast period,
and one further out with a slower period. Or, one on the surface of the
pulsar being absorbed, and the other still in orbit. By chance, it happens
that points in both orbits are aimed towards earth. Eventually, I predict,
we will detect pulsars with 3 or more distinct periods of flashing.
This means that pulsars are probably much more numerous than we
now imagine, but we cannot detect most of them because either they are
not currently capturing a large enough object, or the orbits of the
objects being captured never point towards earth.
Consequently, neutron stars and black holes are undoubtedly far more numerous
than the ones we have so far observed.
Since the objects captured by neutron stars or black holes
vary in size and composition, and since it may take a good deal of time
for such a dense object as a neutron star or black hole to flow back
into a symmetric form, they may be irregular and heterogeneous
most of the time.
If the Many Bang Theory were true, then we would expect a continuous
range of very dense objects, from neutron stars about as heavy
as our sun to black holes as massive as a galaxy.
The Chandra X-ray Observatory has now confirmed this.
It has detected a class of mid-sized black holes, between the small black
holes formed from collapsed stars, weighing only a dozen times our sun,
and the super-massive black holes at the centers of galaxies, weighing
millions of times the sun's weight.
PULLING THE TRIGGER
The question naturally arises, what causes extremely dense objects
like black holes to explode?
One likely cause is that the exposions occur when there is a change in
the object's physical state.
Atoms are composed of positively charged protons and uncharged neutrons
at their centers, with negatively charged electrons orbiting outside.
When a neutron star forms, the immense gravity crushes down the atoms
so that the electrons and protons combine, canceling their electrical
charges, and becoming neutrons.
When the density increased further, the neutrons themselves are crushed
into a denser form, and individual particles cease to exist.
Both of the processes just described are changes in the state
of the object.
Both are accompanied by large releases of energy.
A proton and electron together have slightly more mass than a neutron,
so when they combine there is a loss of mass that creates an equivalent
amount of energy.
If these processes occur quickly throughout an object, then an explosion
If they occur slowly, or only locally, then an explosion is unlikely.
The difference is probably in how they capture objects and increase
If it happens slowly, such as pulling in gas from a diffuse cloud,
then probably there will be no sudden state change and no explosion.
If it happens rapidly, such as a star being captures all at once, there
may be an immediate state change, with consequent explosion.
This means that there is no specific triggering mass, and that objects
of widely different masses may explode with differing force.
There are several consequences of the Many Bang theory that need to
be considered. The first is the relationship between red shift and
the age and distance of various objects. The current equation relating
red shift and distance is based on the premise that all such objects arose
from a single Big Bang at the gravitational center of the observable
universe. Since Earth is fairly close to the center, distance from
Earth and distance from the center are close enough to consider the
same for this purpose.
If an object arose from a different bang, at a location far from
the center, however, this approximation would not hold. An object with a
small red shift could actually be very far away because it originated
from an explosion far away.
In most cases, this is not a problem. If we are talking about
a local explosion of matter that orginated from one of the big bangs,
then the bits of material produced would be too small to see individually,
while the whole mass that produced the explosion would still be moving
away at the same velocity it had prior to exploding. This is a simple
consequence of conservation of momentum. Most of
the very distant objects we can detect must be primary products of
a big bang, not the smaller secondary products. On the other hand, if
we mean an object produced by another very distant big bang, it is
probably still too far away to see yet.
If there have been many bangs at many locations, it is possible
that some of them are comparable in size, or even much larger, than
our own local Big Bang. This means that there may be other clusters of matter
even bigger than what we currently call the universe. Although we could not
expect to see individual galaxies, or even galactic clusters, within such a
distant object, we might be able to see the entire object. An object
of that size could rightfully be called another universe.
It is possible that we have already seen such universes, but have not
recognized them because they do not exhibit a large red shift. Indeed,
the portion of such a universe nearest us may be approaching at a high speed
due to its own big bang. The object would then have the opposite of a
red shift, called a purple or violet shift. We would interpret such an object
as being small and nearby, rather than huge and vastly distant.
This opens the door to the likelihood that space is filled with matter,
rather than the prevailing assumption that all matter is fairly local
because it was created by a single Big Bang, and therefore could not have
traveled more than 13 billion light-years. Such a cosmos could be permanent
rather than having a limited age. In other words, there is no beginning
of the universe, and likewise no beginning of time.
One of the most fundamental laws of physics is that matter can be neither
created nor destroyed. If you assume all of the matter in the universe
came from from a single Big Bang, then this presents a problem. How did
the Big Bang create all of the matter that we observe? The traditional
theory is that no matter was created, rather the Big Bang created exactly
equal amounts of matter and anti-matter, so that the total amount of matter
in the universe was 0 before the Big Bang, and is still 0. Nothing was
created or destroyed.
The difficulty with this theory is that we observe large amounts
of matter, but very little anti-matter. The traditionalists maintain that
the required amount of anti-matter is out there, we just don't know how
to detect it. Or, they must assume that anti-matter somehow winks out
of existence, or converts itself into matter over time.
On the other hand, if we assume matter has always existed throughout
the cosmos, then there is no such problem. There is no need to ask how
matter came into existence; it was always here. There is no need to require
a precise balance between matter and anti-matter. We can accept a universe
with lots of matter and little anti-matter, if that should prove to be true,
or the converse if our little corner should be atypical.
An extension of the theory that the total matter in the universe
is zero, is that the total energy in the universe is zero. Since neither
matter nor energy can be created or destroyed, the Big Bang theory needs
to explain where all the energy of vast quantities of matter hurtling
outwards originated. The conventional answer is that this kinetic energy
is exactly balanced by the potential energy of this same matter, should it
all be pulled back by gravity to the center. Thus the total energy in the
universe would be zero.
This is an inadequate explanation. Obviously all of this kinetic
energy originated from the Big Bang. So, where did the energy for the
Big Bang originate? It cannot be from the conversion of matter into
energy, since there was no matter before the Big Bang.
This problem does not occur in the Many Bang theory. In this view
of the universe there has always been both matter and energy, and the
conversion of one into the other can take place freely.
One of the puzzles that has engaged astrophysicists lately is the
problem of the missing mass. This problem occurs if you assume an
oscillating universe. There must be enough mass to pull all the matter
in the universe back to the center for the next bang. The amount of matter
that we can currently detect is only about one-tenth enough to do this.
Once again, the problem does not occur for the Many Bang theory.
Bangs can occur anywhere that there is enough mass to pull together the
nucleus for an explosion of any size. It is widely believed that every
galaxy has a black hole at its center, and this has the potential to pull
in the required material for another blast, of super-nova size or larger.
It is worthwhile noting that when any of these bangs occur, some of
the matter being ejected outward will collide with matter still being
pulled inward by gravity. This will create secondary explosions, and the
release of additional radiation. It will also stop some of the matter
from hurtling outwards, and lead to the speedier formation of a new
central nucleus at the same location.
The universe is a far larger and more complex system than the
Big Bang Theory predicts. Matter is distributed throughout the cosmos,
and traveling in every direction. Red shift alone cannot determine the age
and distance of every visible object.