What is the Origin of the Lightest Elements?
Although the birth event of our Universe occurred 13.7 billion years ago, it left enough signatures about its details that scientists are quite confident in our understanding of the basic features of that event. The first hints of the Big Bang came from astronomers, as discussed in this chapter. More recently, two incredible experiments, the Supernova Cosmology Project and the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, have determined the parameters that govern our Universe in exquisite detail. One longstanding paradox is also discussed, and shown to be solved by the Big Bang model. Finally, we explore the nuclear reactions that made a few light nuclei in the few minutes that followed the Big Bang. The abundances for these nuclei obtained by observational astronomers are compared to the calculations of the nucleosynthesis that occurred just after the Big Bang.
KeywordsMicrowave Anisotropy Lithium Helium Heavy Hydrogen
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