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timeline of history of the universe
A schematic illustration of the history of the universe, with time running from left to right. The earliest microscopic fluctuations in space-time are on the far left, followed by the Big Bang and the rapid expansion known as inflation. After 400,000 years the universe cools enough to become transparent but dark, until the first stars form about 400 million years later. Over the next 13 billion years the universe evolves, with bodies such as galaxies and planets forming, into the cosmos we see today. In the long term the expansion of the universe is accelerating, driven by recently discovered dark energy. (NASA)



A remarkable fact about the universe we find ourselves in is that it is capable of sustaining a planet like the Earth and the complex chemistry of life.

On this planet we have achieved an understanding of the vast universe we inhabit, but this has been achieved only in the past century. It was only as recently as the 1920s that we began to get a glimpse of the vastness of the universe of galaxies. The discovery of the microwave background radiation and the realization that the universe began in a hot Big Bang dates back only to 1965.

And it is only since the beginning of the new millennium that cosmology has become a precision science, with a strong consensus emerging about what kind of universe we inhabit.


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