Lecture 19: Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN)

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1 Lecture 19: Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) As with all course material (including homework, exams), these lecture notes are not be reproduced, redistributed, or sold in any form.

2 Announcements Homework Assignment due this Wednesday by 5pm. See class website for details. RocketMix modules assigned for next 3 weeks (again, see class website).

3 Exam 1: Multiple-Choice

4 4 Pillars of the Big Bang theory I. Expansion of the Universe II. Cosmic Microwave Background III. Primordial Nucleosynthesis IV. Evolution of galaxies and large scale structure over the last ~14 billion yrs.

5 Alpher, Bethe, & Gamow (1948) George Gamow predicted background blackbody radiation with T~5K 5

6 History of the Universe At 300,000 yrs after the big bang, the Universe became transparent to light. This is the era we see from cosmic microwave background radiation. microwave background We can only determine what was happening at this time using theoretical estimates and residual tracers. We cannot see this epoch directly. p n n p n p Big Bang p n ,000 years 3 min s

7 100 sec after the big bang the Universe would have been ~1 Billion degrees. At these temperatures, the protons and neutrons are maintained in an equilibrium by the following electronneutrino weak interactions...

8 100 sec after the big bang the Universe would have been ~1 Billion degrees. At these temperatures, the protons and neutrons are maintained in an equilibrium by the following electronneutrino weak interactions... Timescale for these interactions depends on the energy of the neutrinos and the number density of particles, such that...

9 100 sec after the big bang the Universe would have been ~1 Billion degrees. At these temperatures, the protons and neutrons are maintained in an equilibrium by the following electronneutrino weak interactions... Timescale for these interactions depends on the energy of the neutrinos and the number density of particles, such that... So at T ~ 1 x K (or t ~ 0.7s), the timescale exceeds the age of the Universe. What happens then?

10 So at T ~ 1 x K (or t ~ 0.7s), the timescale exceeds the age of the Universe. What happens then?

11 So at T ~ 1 x K (or t ~ 0.7s), the timescale exceeds the age of the Universe. What happens then? Freeze-out!

12 So at T ~ 1 x K (or t ~ 0.7s), the timescale exceeds the age of the Universe. What happens then? Freeze-out! At this point, the number of neutrons to protons will be... [ n ] n + p = 0.21

13 So at T ~ 1 x K (or t ~ 0.7s), the timescale exceeds the age of the Universe. What happens then? Freeze-out! At this point, the number of neutrons to protons will be... [ n ] n + p = 0.21 But neutrons are not stable, so they begin to decay...all the while, the Universe continues to expand and cool.

14 So neutrons begin to decay, as the Universe continues to expand and cool...at some point, the Universe is cool enough that photons can no longer dissociate light nuclei (i.e. H, He).

15 So neutrons begin to decay, as the Universe continues to expand and cool...at some point, the Universe is cool enough that photons can no longer dissociate light nuclei (i.e. H, He). And so then protons and neutrons begin to form the light elements at t ~ 300s (or ~5 min later)...

16 So neutrons begin to decay, as the Universe continues to expand and cool...at some point, the Universe is cool enough that photons can no longer dissociate light nuclei (i.e. H, He). And so then protons and neutrons begin to form the light elements at t ~ 300s (or ~5 min later)... Nearly every neutron that survives ends up in a He nucleus, such that for every 2 neutrons surviving we get 1 4 He.

17 So, based on our knowledge of neutron decay and the theory of the Big Bang, we would expect that the resulting neutron density at t ~ 300s is... [ n ] n + p = 0.123

18 So, based on our knowledge of neutron decay and the theory of the Big Bang, we would expect that the resulting neutron density at t ~ 300s is... [ n ] n + p = And the corresponding Helium abundance would be... This is a strong prediction from the Big Bang theory. Observations of 4 He, 3 He, D, support the theory.

19 100 sec after the big bang 100 sec after the big bang the Universe would have been ~1 Billion degrees. This is the relevant temperature and conditions for protons and neutrons to combine to form light nuclei like He. The ratio of Helium to Hydrogen that would be made is predicted very robustly. Observations indicate great agreement with the Primordial Nucleosynthesis predictions. That is, the He/H ratio in old stars agrees with what is expected from the Big Bang.

20 Why didn t the light elements (i.e. Hydrogen & Helium) form earlier than 3 minutes after the big bang?

21 Why didn t the light elements (i.e. Hydrogen & Helium) form earlier than 3 minutes after the big bang? It was too hot!

22 Early Universe Timeline Big Bang t = 0 Nucleosynthesis t ~ s Recombination t ~ 400,000 yr sea of elementary particles light elements (e.g. H, He) form sea of electrons and nuclei H and He atoms form; photons able to stream freely (CMB!)

23 Universe Timeline Big Bang t = 0 Recombination t ~ 400,000 yr Local Universe t = now Nucleosynthesis t ~ s H and He atoms form; photons able to stream freely (CMB!) Very little atomic hydrogen observed in empty space.

24 Microwave Background

25 Microwave Background

26 The Deepest Image Ever Taken: The Hubble Ultra Deep Field Looking Back in Time area is 1/10th size of full moon

27 Quasars extremely bright emission from a super-massive black hole at the center of a galaxy.

28 Quasars can act as cosmic flashlights allowing us to study gas along the line-of-sight.

29 For distant quasars, we would expect to see strong Hydrogen absorption due to neutral gas -- probing the epoch of reionization. 1216Å

30 For distant quasars, we would expect to see strong Hydrogen absorption due to neutral gas -- probing the epoch of reionization. 1216Å

31 For distant quasars, we would expect to see strong Hydrogen absorption due to neutral gas -- probing the epoch of reionization. 1216Å

32 For distant quasars, we would expect to see strong Hydrogen absorption due to neutral gas -- probing the epoch of reionization. 1216Å

33 The Gunn-Peterson Trough: Probing Recombination

34 Following the epoch of recombination, the Universe was comprised primarily of atomic hydrogen.

35 Following the epoch of recombination, the Universe was comprised primarily of atomic hydrogen. The first stars (and black holes) began to produce high-energy light that re-ionized this atomic hydrogen (i.e. split it back into e- and p).

36 Following the epoch of recombination, the Universe was comprised primarily of atomic hydrogen. The first stars (and black holes) began to produce high-energy light that re-ionized this atomic hydrogen (i.e. split it back into e- and p). Today, empty space between galaxies is filled with very low-density ionized gas along with some small pockets of colder atomic/molecular gas.

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