Space

Why didn't the universe collapse after the Big Bang? It's a question of gravity

Why didn't the universe collap...
New research suggests that during the Big Bang, the curving of space-time – gravity – held everything together, preventing decay( Photo: Shutterstock)
New research suggests that during the Big Bang, the curving of space-time – gravity – held everything together, preventing decay( Photo: Shutterstock)
View 1 Image
New research suggests that during the Big Bang, the curving of space-time – gravity – held everything together, preventing decay( Photo: Shutterstock)
1/1
New research suggests that during the Big Bang, the curving of space-time – gravity – held everything together, preventing decay( Photo: Shutterstock)

Not only does gravity keep us safely on the ground and hold the planets in alignment, but now it may soon get the credit for saving the whole universe. Physicists at the Imperial College London and the Universities of Copenhagen and Helsinki believe that the interaction between Higgs boson particles and gravity had a stabilizing effect on the very early universe, thereby preventing the Big Crunch – a catastrophic collapse into nothing – from occurring shortly after the Big Bang.

Without this interaction, the Higgs field – which is uniform throughout the universe and is responsible for giving matter mass – would have gained too much energy and kicked the universe over a very high energy hill and then down into a deep valley of energy space. In a matter of microseconds, the universe would then have became too unstable to continue inflating and collapsed in on itself.

But the researchers suggest that the curving of space-time – gravity – held everything together, preventing decay. "[The interaction between the Higgs particle and gravity] cannot be measured in particle accelerator experiments, but it has a big effect on the Higgs instability during inflation," explains Imperial College London professor Arttu Rajantie. "Even a relatively small value is enough to explain the survival of the universe without any new physics."

The team hopes to measure this interaction using cosmological data from current and future European Space Agency missions. "If we are able to do that," says Rajantie, "we will have supplied the last unknown number in the Standard Model of particle physics and be closer to answering fundamental questions about how we are all here."

A paper describing the research was published in the journal Physical Review Letters.

Source: Imperial College London

8 comments
SamB
"but now it may soon get the credit for saving the whole universe" Just a little bit dramatic don't you think? The researchers are trying to identify properties that enable them to validate their model. This is not the same as the universe was ( make that 'is' to be scary ) in danger of not existing.
Larry English
"Why didn't the universe collapse after the Big Bang?" --uh first answer this: who says it didn;t or won;t - the first/next 9999 times? wle
apprenticeearthwiz
Attempting to identify properties that enable them to validate their models is what got us to our current model. 'In the beginning there was nothing which then exploded'. Sounds more like religions which, as we all know, vainly try to nail things in place in our ever changing world. Our cosmology is based on the assumption that the universe is non-biological. (A biological universe is unlikely to be entropic.) This assumption is completely unexamined. Are there any scientists willing to un-nail themselves to take a look?
Esteban Sperber Frankel
Is not the universe expanding after the Big Bang, like a explosion first and than implosion, only in the reality is fast, but the universe is inmense and looks very slowly expansion, wait billions of years and will start collapsing.
rollzone
hello. This is the most beautiful display of color in science that I never got to see. Everything without a bang is anticlimactic to humans.
Threesixty
We owe our lives to Gravity, it makes us stick to our planet and makes our planet obey planetary rules. Escape from gravity requires rules available to those seeking an escape from the rules of gravity.
Mel Tisdale
Perhaps it did/will collapse and because time was created at the moment of the big bang we just haven't got a fix on where we are in the particular part of the bang, crunch, bang, crunch (ad infinitum) vibration that we are in. I've got enough to worry about without wondering if one morning I am going to wake up and find that over night it has started on a crunch phase and all my clocks are going backward, much to my dog's and my confusion.
Grunchy
I assume the mathematics behind this are staggeringly beyond my comprehension! Furthermore, I too challenge scientists to study the biology of the Universe, starting with the Sun. Well? No takers? Methinks I smell a conspiracy!