Observable And Unknown Universe, Does Universe Edge Exist?

Discover the mind-bending concept of the universe’s edge and its elusive nature. Explore theories of a rounded universe.

Video of the day December 13th 2019


How Do We Define The “Edge of the Universe”?

I know this may sound like an easy question, but trust me when I say that it honestly isn’t. And some of it is for reasons that we’ll discuss a little later on in the video. But one of the reasons we need to ask this question is that there are some people who don’t know if there is an actual edge to the universe at all.

After all, to have an “edge” would mean that you are a shape or object that is actually capable of having an edge. And for a long time, a lot of people felt that the universe was a flat long object. But, recently, some theories have been circulating that the universe might actually be a sphere, which means that there is no “Edge” but rather an “outline” of the universe, which of course would change every known theory about the universe as a whole.

To be clear, this wasn’t just any “random idea” that came about. Rather, it came from a study of a lot of significant data. Specifically, they looked at the Cosmic Microwave Background, also known as the CMB. What is CMB? Well, it’s:

“The remnant light from the big bang, and it is the most distant light we can see in the universe. Because of this, it is the light most affected by the shape of the universe. The scale of fluctuations in the CMB is determined by the amount of dark matter and dark energy in the universe, which we know, so we know how large the fluctuations should appear.”

These fluctuations of light have helped scientists in many ways over the years, and this new team looked at the fluctuations and noticed something very strange. Because the data from the Plank spacefraft indicated that the fluctuations of the CMB was much, MUCH more than it would’ve been. So, if the universe was flat, these fluctuations would not be possible. Or at the very least not to the extent that they are right now. Thus, this new study seems to show that the universe is more rounded than we earlier expected.

So if the universe is a sphere, how can we look for a single edge when technically that would be any point along a circular outline?

Well…let’s not get too crazy with it, ok? Let’s just say for this video that we’re looking for the place where the universe ends and there’s nothing beyond that. So how do we search for that? Simple, we start at the beginning of it all in the eyes of many.

The Big Bang

As is somewhat of a tradition here on Earth, there are many beliefs and theories as to who or what created the universe. But in terms of science, and the people who live in this “realm”, they believe that a massive explosion of energy and matter created the universe as we know it. Now, obviously, just because that explosion happened means that life and the universe as we know it was fully formed, far from it in fact.

You see, most scientists agree that after everything ‘settled down’ from the massive explosion that created it that things began to grow, expand, evolve, and of course, change. For example, it may seem logical to an extent that the growth of Earth came rather quickly, but that’s not the case. Earth took billions of years according to scientists to get just the most basic of life made, and then it took billions of years more to get to where we are now.

The same goes for the rest of the universe. Because while it may seem easy to think that everything just “settled down” after the big explosion that created everything, that’s not likely. The edge of the universe likely shifted quite a bit before “settling down”, if it ever settled down at all given that the universe could be theoretically infinite, something we’ll touch on in a bit.

That’s one of the big reasons that scientists try and not just prove the Big Bang, but try and get a lot of information from its potential origin, because it could prove where the edge is…if one exists at all.

Dark Matter

In the universe, no matter how big is, there are a few fundamental mysteries that are going around, and one of the biggest by far is that of Dark Matter (we talked about in this post). This is thought to be a property of not just the universe, but proof that the universe doesn’t have an edge…because it’s still growing.

You see, scientists believed that the universe had “stopped growing” after the Big Bang. Or, at the very least, had “slowed down” from the rapid expansion that created the universe. Which would make sense when you think about it, because after a while, the expansion would have to stop, right? As the energy or even the momentum of the massive explosion would end, and thus, no more growth.

But then, in 1920, Edwin Hubble made a discovery that the universe was still growing, and it didn’t show signs of stopping. This sent many scientists into a tizzy because it wasn’t clear what would cause the universe to continue to expand. Could the energy from the Big Bang truly have been infinite? Or was something else coming forth to cause the expansion? The answer that was found (in theory at least) was that of the concept of Dark Energy and Dark Matter.

Scientists believe that Dark Matter is the reason that galaxies exist as we know them. How does that work when the Big Bang apparently created everything? Simple, while the Big Bang was the “creation” event, many scientists have noted that galaxies shouldn’t stay together in their current forms. Meaning, they shouldn’t rotate in place. Instead, they should just fly apart.

But instead, they stay close (most of the times anyway, there are exceptions to the rule) and become “formed” objects in space. The reason for this is that Dark Matter has gravity, and scientists feel that because there is so much Dark Matter in the universe (up to 85% depending on which scientists you talk to), that the gravity exerted allows them to stay as “one.”

The only problem with Dark Matter is that it’s still a theoretical property of the universe, they can’t prove it’s real. But, they do think that it exists in some part, and that it is the reason that Dark Energy exists, which affects the universe in the opposite way of Dark Matter.

dark energy

How Dark Energy Fits Into This

Dark Energy is the principle posed by scientists that it’s a type of energy that is literally pulling at the universe, thus allowing it to expand. All matter in the universe have a type of gravity, and that holds the universe together, but this Dark Energy is pulling it apart in a way that counteracts the gravity of the universe without destroying it. Which is a good thing. Because it’d be the opposite of pulling at something like Play-Doh until eventually it breaks. We currently don’t have to worry about that.

Dark Matter is theorized to be the source of Dark Energy, not the least of which is because of the whole 85% of the universe may or may not be made up of it. So by that token, Dark Energy isn’t just pushing the universe boundaries, it’s technically doing it in all directions.

Furthermore, we don’t know if this Dark Energy is ever going to “run out”, and due to that, that could mean that the universe is ever expanding, never stopping in terms of its growth, and something that could theoretically never have a single edge to it that we can see.

Which is already a problem from where we are on Earth, because the universe is WAY big, and MUCH larger than most people are willing to admit because they don’t understand how big a galaxy can be, or understand the measurements of lightyears.

Lightyears and How It Factors Into Galaxies

If you wanted to know where we are in this massive universe, I would tell you that you find yourself in the legendary Milky Way Galaxy. A place so vast that there’s a unit of measurement that perfectly defines it: Lightyear. No, not Buzz Lightyear, just lightyear. In case you’re curious, a Lightyear is a distance of 9.461 trillion kilometers. Which for the record is already a long distance before you stacking it!

That measurement becomes even more important when you realize some of the things that are “closest” to us in terms of this galaxy. For example, the next star that we are close to is known as Alpha Centauri. But that is 4.24 lightyears away.

And do recall that when it comes to space travel, Earth isn’t exactly the fastest at getting things moving. For example, we made a probe called Voyager 1, and if it tried to make it to Alpha Centauri? It would take 70,000 years give or take. So yeah, that’s a long way away.

And then, there’s the Milky Way Galaxy itself, which is actually 100,000 lightyears from end to end. That would take humanity such lengths of time to go from that point to the other that the universe likely would end before it happened! Let’s hope not, but I hope that gives you context.

And remember, that’s just ONE galaxy in the universe, there are between (based on who you ask) a hundred billion to 2 trillion galaxies that we think we know of in the universe based on our information and knowledge. 

The “Observable Universe”

So at this point in time I hope you appreciate the scale and scope that the universe appears to be to our own eyes here on Earth. Because as we “see it” the universe is truly massive, and it’s still growing. What we define as the “observable universe” is merely just a guess based on our instruments and other devices to try and define what is technically indefinable.

In fact, here is the actual definition of “observable universe“:

“The observable universe is a spherical region of the universe comprising all matter that can be observed from Earth or its space-based telescopes and exploratory probes at the present time, because electromagnetic radiation from these objects has had time to reach the Solar System and Earth since the beginning of the cosmological expansion.”

But, if the universe is infinitely growing, and the edge of the universe is continually expanding, that could mean that the “light” that we’re seeing from the universe reaching us isn’t the end, it’s just one stop on the WAY to the end. Which is a bit of a mind trip

And it’s further estimated that the width of the observable universe is about 93 billion lightyears across.

But, that’s the rub, that’s what we CAN see in certain ways. But what lies beyond the observable?

The Unknown Universe

The reason that we can see what is on parts of the edges of the “universe” is because the light has reached the Earth. But given distance and the speed of light, that also leaves the possibility that there are objects BEYOND the observable universe that has yet to be witnessed by man. Many have speculated what could be out there, but we have no proof to say what is and isn’t “beyond the lines” that we have put the universe in.

The unknown is often something we seek to find out, but we are almost always limited by what we have and what we can use to define it all. But either way, if there is more beyond our universe than what we see, it makes us even smaller in comparison.

But more than that, there is a theory that between the Dark Matter and Dark Energy that is “expanding” the edge of the universe that there honestly isn’t anything for us to find once we go beyond what is observable. What do I mean by that. Well, think of it like this. Imagine you have a large box of crayons, and you’re told that the paper you can draw on (let’s say it’s a roll of paper) is infinite, and it grows as you draw.

The crayons are the energy and matter that was created in the Big Bang, and thus you’re “drawing” the universe. Eventually, your crayons are going to run out, right? Which means that while you’re stuck at one point, the paper is going to continue, and that’s where we’re at. If there’s nothing in the “dark areas” of the universe that are continually expanding, if there’s nothing to emit light that will reach us (which would take a long time for the record regardless), we really can’t know what’s out there in the unknown.

Where Is The Edge?

That’s a good question, and it’s one that no one really knows the answer to. Again, we only know what is the distance of the “observable” universe, and even then that logic can be picked apart because we don’t technically know the shape of the universe and how light travels through it. A straight line doesn’t necessarily apply here.

Plus, if the universe is growing infinitely, then that would mean that nothing is what where we think it is in the grand scope. Because the “outlines” of the universe are consistently change.

Now, sure, something may happen to where the universe stops growing, and we may, emphasis on MAY, be able to figure out where the edge is. But that’s not right now. In fact, if you wanted to give an honest answer to where the edge of the universe is, you should pull a James T. Kirk and go…

“There, that direction”.

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