What is the universe expanding into?

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We watched the video Tom posted on the hub (journey to the edge of the universe) and it really got us thinking about how the universe is expanding and what could be beyond the edges of the visible universe.

For thousands of years, astronomers have been asking basic questions about the size and age of the universe, such as whether or not the universe goes on forever, whether it has an edge and whether or not it has always existed. In 1929, Edwin Hubble made an exciting discovery: he discovered that the universe is expanding. What this means is that the galaxies outside of our own are moving away from us and the ones that are furthest away from us are moving the fastest.

But what are they moving into? According to a video we watched on the BBC, the universe isn’t necessarily expanding into anything, which we found really difficult to get out heads around. The scientist in the video compared the universe’s expansion to the surface of a balloon when you blow it up; if you were to draw dots on the surface of the balloon they would move further and further away from each other as you blew it up. In the same way, the galaxies in our universe are moving further and further away from each other as the universe expands.

The video argues that the universe is everything and that there doesn’t need to be something else for it to expand in to (unlike the balloon, which expands into the air around it.). As the universe expands, more space simply appears. It is created from nothing and will continue to happen without limit. This is hard to imagine because the human mind can’t really process the idea of ‘nothingness’, but the logic behind it made us think it could be true, even if we can’t fully understand it.

This would surely mean that the universe is infinite, which is surprisingly the easiest idea to get your head around compared to the other theories that are out there.

There are two other possibilities we found during our research for what lies beyond the universe, both of which are really difficult to understand.

The first possibility talks about the idea of something called ‘dark flow’. In 2008 (the year we were born!), astronomers discovered that galactic clusters (a structure that consists of hundreds and thousands of galaxies) were all streaming in the same direction at over two million miles per hour. One reason for this could be some sort of massive structure outside the edge of the observable universe exerting gravitational influence and pulling the universe outwards. These structures could be anything from accumulations of matter and energy to some sort of warp in space-time. We just don’t know.

Another option (and we found this the most strange) involves a universe of universes (a multiverse), which would mean that our universe existed in the midst of vast array of other universes. In this case, there would be other parallel universes beyond our universe, and these universes would be able to come into contact with each other, connecting to make a Big Bang like the one that created our universe.

What do you think? Is the universe infinite? Is there anything beyond it? Will it expand forever?

References

http://www.bbc.com/earth/story/20170210-how-the-universe-can-expand-if-there-is-no-extra-space

https://www.express.co.uk/news/science/1169424/the-universe-nasa-news-across-the-universe-galaxy-multiverse-dark-flow

https://futurism.com/what-lies-beyond-the-edge-of-the-observable-universe

Comments (54)

  • Braiswick Primary School succinct_leaves | Braiswick Primary School
    20 Nov 2019

    I think the universe is infinite because what would they edge of space look like? I can't quite imagine it really; would it just be nothing, not even darkness, or would there be a barrier to separate the universes? And if the universe does expand forever, then will it push that barrier or go into the nothingness? I think it would as that seems to be the only logical explanation for this. This is a question I have been wondering for a while now, why is it called the "universe" when people believe there is more than one? Uni means one or singular so why is it called that if there is more than one? I also think that when you enter a black hole you enter another universe. This is because you don't die when you get sucked into a black hole, so that is the only thing that could reasonably happen. A black hole is a gateway between two universes but just no one knows it yet.

    succinct_leaves

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    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      succinct_leaves's comment 20 Nov 2019

      A very interesting set of questions, succinct_leaves. Look forward to hearing what people think?

      Reply to this comment
    2. Highdown-logo-250x250.jpg frank_chocolate | Highdown School
      succinct_leaves's comment 05 Dec 2019

      These are some interesting questions, I have answered some of them. I disagree because there is so much in space that astronauts can not reach, we simply can not tell if the universe is infinite. We (in our lifetime) may not even know what the edge of space looks like but I can imagine it being an invisible barrier. If there is an end to planets, why wouldn't there be an end to the universe? Also, I am guessing the universe is called 'universe' still because there is only one major one and everything else is just a microcosm of the main universe. However, I also think that it is called the universe because when it was given its name scientists hadn't yet discovered the other universes. Does that answer some of your questions?

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  • Hammond School logo genius_flute | Hammond Junior School A
    20 Nov 2019

    After reading this post, I realized I had never thought of this before. I simply could not understand how the universe could be infinitely large and still be able to expand further, and I found the initial question confusing too. This has completely fuzzled my brain, and I am not able to come up with an answer. Thank you for sharing this with me, or I may have never thought about this.

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      genius_flute's comment 20 Nov 2019

      It is a brain-tangler - thank you for voicing your confusion! Sometimes it is good to be confused because it shows we are thinking deeply!

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    2. Highdown-logo-250x250.jpg frank_chocolate | Highdown School
      genius_flute's comment 05 Dec 2019

      I can relate, I was just kind of comfortable with knowing that we live on Earth, in the universe, and scientists and astronauts were exploring space. But this post really helped me expand my knowledge and I now understand that there is so much more than what is on Earth and what I can see outside my window. I want everyone to understand our current situation and i strongly believe we should be educated even more about space exploration than what we already are. This post has taken a step towards making this happen.

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  • Hammond School logo genuine_cat | Hammond Junior School A
    20 Nov 2019

    I think the Universe is expanding into the nothingness, it's expanding reality as it grows... but controversially, The Universe, some people say is everything and so is not expanding, just everything is flying away from us because of another reason we haven't touched yet. Linking to Philip Pullman's parallel universes and what Brilliant Blackberry said above about how we could be inside a multiverse, many differing realities, I think this is incredibly well-thought idea, as we can only speculate what's beyond the observable Universe and this particular thought really made me rethink my idea of what is beyond the boundaries of our 'reality.' During our BNC lesson on the relationship between planets and their distance from one another I found just the sheer space in-between each them, using this knowledge I can work out that if we were expanding reality with the ever growing universe then wouldn't the planets
    be shooting away from each other?... and if so why?

    Reply to this comment
    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      genuine_cat's comment 20 Nov 2019

      Can you find out why it is expanding, and why the planets are getting further away from one another?

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      1. Hammond School logo genuine_cat | Hammond Junior School A
        Tom @ the BNC's comment 20 Nov 2019

        I have found out why the planets would not be moving away from each other:

        'the expansion of the universe only affects the distance between galaxy groups. It does not affect the distance between stars inside a galaxy, or even the distance between galaxies in a group'
        source: cheerfull_photograph!

        Reply to this comment
        1. tom Tom @ the BNC
          genuine_cat's comment 20 Nov 2019

          Fantastic - well done on finding this out, and thanks to cheerful_photograph!

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  • The Sherwood School grateful_crab | The Sherwood School
    20 Nov 2019

    The universe expands because of the fact time goes by and time exists because of black holes which give of sound and time waves which allows time to go by which allows the universe to expand. So physics proves that if there was a powerful and large enough telescope you would be able to see previous space events or universal events such as planets colliding and the big bang etc

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    1. Hammond School logo chatty_leopard | Hammond Junior School B
      grateful_crab's comment 21 Nov 2019

      I agree because orbit and galaxy's are infinite if we can get that large telescope it can change everything.

      Reply to this comment
  • The Sherwood School grateful_crab | The Sherwood School
    20 Nov 2019

    Following my previous comment, I think being in a multiverse is most certainly possible too.

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  • Hammond School logo amicable_cherry | Hammond Junior School D
    21 Nov 2019

    After i read this i never fort of it before

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  • Hammond School logo loved_wildcat | Hammond Junior School F
    21 Nov 2019

    Well after reading this it makes me realise that when the galaxies are moving the planets might move further away soooo that means if anything happens to Earth we won't have a planet to go to that easily as well as all the galaxies are so far away and scientists haven't found a planet we humans can survive and live on

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  • Hammond School logo plucky_koala | Hammond Junior School B
    21 Nov 2019

    Well done keep up the good work!

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  • Braiswick Primary School spirited_insect | Braiswick Primary School
    21 Nov 2019

    I found this really interesting you two!


    I think what you said in the 8th (second last) paragraph was that we are either in the centre of the multiverse or we are one of the many universes that is placed in an unknown location. I think talking about universes is an interesting topic to talk about for Space but we don’t really know (I also don’t think it is possible) what is out there as our universe is expanding into nothing, and as the name suggests, there is Space. Before this post was found, I had thought about whether it is finite or infinite, but I never knew it could expand.
    I think the universe is expanding into wonders because there will be just so much to explore, and due to the fact that Space is becoming more popular, we can explore those wonders quicker and easier. I think we should not make changes to our universe as that could effect it.
    Is our universe really growing into nothing? Wouldn’t planets appear and come into existence as this happens? We are not going to know because there is no ‘edge of the universe.

    I think our universe is not expanding into nothing because...
    Number one is that we are not going to know unless we find out so nobody is right or wrong. Number two is that where do universes come from? Some are formed by rock which make them terrestrial. Some maybe we don’t know. I think some is the dust created by the universe unfolding.

    In conclusion, I think we don’t know and that it is growing into wonders. Maybe we don’t know, which is okay because some secrets of the universe prefer being mysteries.

    Reply to this comment
    1. Olivia-Avatar.jpg Olivia @ the BNC
      spirited_insect's comment 21 Nov 2019

      Excellent reasoning on a tricky topic. Well done!

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  • St-Gregorys-logo-250x250.jpg jolly_cricket | St Gregory's Catholic Primary School
    22 Nov 2019

    loved wildcat i do not think your correct because how about mars because even if they did not figure out the secrets many years ago mars had water and maybe just maybe if you dig down you may find secrets that might involve life.

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    1. Birchwood-logo-250x250.jpg jolly_duck | Birchwood C of E Primary School
      jolly_cricket's comment 02 Dec 2019

      I disagree to you because nothing could develop without the needs of life? If Mars, amazingly, did have life wouldn't we notice? But we just look at mars as planet that COULD have possibility. But we will never know because nobody is going to actually be brave enough to go. Even if they was Human survival on Mars it would require living in artificial Mars habitats with complex life-support systems. One key aspect of this would be water processing systems. Being made mainly of water, a human being would die in a matter of days without it.

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  • Hillyfield School logo triumphant_performance | Hillyfield Primary Academy
    24 Nov 2019

    I really liked your post because of the questions you put in and the websites you put on I will try and check on them

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  • appreciative_dove | Whyteleafe School B
    25 Nov 2019

    I enjoyed reading this article! It was very thorough.

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  • Evelyn-Street-logo-250x250.jpg confident_keyboard | Evelyn Street Primary School
    26 Nov 2019

    nothing the universe is infernet never ending universe. :)

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  • Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg methodical_ocean | Upton Cross Primary School A
    27 Nov 2019

    I think that the world will expand as it is getting newer and newer like our stars.Also new things are coming like possible exploration on Mars my intake is that exploration on Mars will not happen as it is already said as the water on Mars is permanently frozen.And it would be impossible for a never ending supply of water to be rationed as we need it for bathing and drinking and being hygienic.So I think the earth will expand but Mars isn’t quite there yet.

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    1. Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg brilliant_fossil | Upton Cross Primary School A
      methodical_ocean's comment 27 Nov 2019

      I agree with you because we won't be able to stay clean and it is also quite cold on Mars and you won't have enough warmth or light therefore it will be a misery life on Mars.

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      1. Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg methodical_ocean | Upton Cross Primary School A
        brilliant_fossil's comment 28 Nov 2019

        I like how you've agreed to my comment which reminded me of our previous lesson in burnet news club and we read some news articles of what we thought about the news and one was about 'miracle gel' to 'save us from the cold' even though this was fake I thought this could be maybe the start to space scams because if this 'mracle gel'could possibly save us it would have been verified by scientists.What do you think?

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        1. Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg brilliant_fossil | Upton Cross Primary School A
          methodical_ocean's comment 30 Nov 2019

          I think this culd be possible although like you said it is fake but what if this process could actually work with just enough strengh.

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  • Upton-Cross-logo-250x250.jpg brilliant_fossil | Upton Cross Primary School A
    27 Nov 2019

    Why is it that the ones furthest away are moving the most fastest?

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  • The Sherwood School giving_orangutan | The Sherwood School
    28 Nov 2019

    If the astronomer Edwin Hubble made a discovery that the world is in fact expanding are we getting more from this expansion? Moreover this discovery that Edwin Hubble made was with telescopes, it is not like what we will use today. Will we discover more with modern technology?

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  • Hammond School logo courageous_fern | Hammond Junior School A
    28 Nov 2019

    This is an amazing question!
    I think that the universe is just expanding into 'nothingness' but it is very difficult to prove this because it is extremely hard for humans to picture what 'nothingness' would be, as you said. This makes it look a lot less credible.
    As space will continue to grow and expand without a limit (because there is no edge of space) new planets, moons and stars would be forming. I believe this because new stars are forming in our galaxy so why wouldn't they in galaxies far away from us?

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  • Hammond School logo versatile_molecule | Hammond Junior School B
    29 Nov 2019

    I found this hard to get my head around, how can matter be infinite?

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  • Faringdon-logo-250x250.jpg careful_science | Faringdon Community College
    02 Dec 2019

    I just want to let you know that I am only somewhat stating evidence and it is not all facts.


    The universe is a large expanse of nothing. Why view is that it could be infinite. I have done a bit of research and I have found that the universe is vast and possibly infinite as it is a series of galaxies rubbing against each other and I also did a bit of research on @versatile_molecules comment and it didn't come up. with much but I think, based on the evidence that I have already, that matter cannot be infinite but I can go on forever, if that makes sense. What I mean by this is that I suspect that the matter of the universe is not infinite but it is there infinitely and it doesn't stop going.



    I want to conclude by saying this is a really thought out post and I think you are really good. I hope you take this suggestion into consideration.

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    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      careful_science's comment 02 Dec 2019

      This is a real brain-twister! What evidence did you find?

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  • Hammond School logo determined_shrimp | Hammond Junior School B
    02 Dec 2019

    I think the universe is expanding into nothingness because I don't think it is possible for any more additional planets to expand into the universe ,and planets will explode and be destroyed like Earth. As meteors hit different planets, those planets will be destroyed. On the other hand, there is a lot of unexplored parts of space that might be producing more planets. There might even be things that aren't planets or stars ahead in other areas of space. It seems unlikely to believe that more planets can become a thing but so I think the universe has no border and just expands into stars more nothingness.

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  • Lyons Hall Primary School loyal_turtle | Lyons Hall Primary School D
    04 Dec 2019

    we would go to the edge and it would look like?

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  • Lyons Hall Primary School energetic_aspect | Lyons Hall Primary School D
    04 Dec 2019

    The universe belongs to all of us, so do not go to space because if you do, the rockets will send CO2 gas in to space and cause more pollution.

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  • Graveney-logo-250x250.jpg balanced_volcano | Graveney School
    04 Dec 2019

    I think the universe is expanding into space and more space until it hits another universe, sort of like galaxies and the bit of space in the middle.

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    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      balanced_volcano's comment 04 Dec 2019

      Are you suggesting there could be more than one universe, balanced_volcano?

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  • Lyons Hall Primary School lovely_panda_bear | Lyons Hall Primary School D
    05 Dec 2019

    there should be more than one universe

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  • Christ Church Primary School unbiased_banana | Christ Church Primary School
    05 Dec 2019

    What IS beyond the universe anyway????

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    1. tom Tom @ the BNC
      unbiased_banana's comment 05 Dec 2019

      What a brilliant question. What do you think the answer is?

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  • Lyons Hall Primary School lovely_panda_bear | Lyons Hall Primary School D
    05 Dec 2019

    I think that there should be more than one universe tom

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  • Hammond School logo skillful_turtle | Hammond Junior School A
    06 Dec 2019

    Thanks brilliant_blackberry and patient_parrot those videos really helped me to understand that the planets are expanding into nothingness. But these planets could be expanding into more space maybe actual space is expanding. This is probably confusing you but there might be more space around the planets that we know are circulating the sun.

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  • Preston Manor School independent_elderberry | Preston Manor School
    06 Dec 2019

    While Edwin Hubble discovered that black holes expand, Stephen Hawking discovered that the universe is expanding, When his university tutor took him to a lecture by Edwin Hubble.

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  • Phoenix-logo-250x250.jpg loyal_music | Phoenix Primary School
    06 Dec 2019

    It's like are lifestyle changes on Earth becouse that gets better.better.and better just like the universe but how is it expanding and why that is the question

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  • Hammond School logo versatile_molecule | Hammond Junior School B
    06 Dec 2019

    I think the universe is expanding into something that does not contain matter
    I disagree with you genuine cat because in my opinion reality is principal, something that is infinite. I agree lovely panda because maybe there is multiple dimensions separated by time. I was watching a tv program last night that talked about space time and how it is what the universe is. It talked about how space time is warped by anything that has mass, the bigger it is, the more it warps space time. So, my point is, space time might have multiple layers with a universe resting on each on and when each layer is warped the dimensions bump against each other. Genuine cat, I have read His Dark Materials trilogy and I do think that the fact there is multiple dimensions might be true.
    On the other hand, matter might be being stretched and therefore the universe is expanding into nothingness, a timeless plain that does not exist until the universe expands into it. One way of looking at it is: There is a time scale that has an end, the rest of it is blank but as the universe expands those blank space are filled. In answer to your question unbiased banana, from one point of view, the universe is time space and reality. From perspective space is an ever expanding entity that would continue to grow/stretch with time and time is its self so in short with time it stretches time. I hp

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  • Hammond School logo versatile_molecule | Hammond Junior School B
    06 Dec 2019

    Sorry, I did not mean to put I hp, what I meant is: I hope I have shown multiple view points effectively.

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  • Hammond School logo versatile_molecule | Hammond Junior School B
    06 Dec 2019

    I also meant to put 'from one perspective' in the second last line! Sorry, I accidently pressed enter before I checked my comment!

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  • Noel-Park-logo-250x250.jpg brave_grape | Noel Park Primary School
    08 Dec 2019

    Space is infinite ,it goes on forever.Our Sun is one of at least 100 billion stars in the Milky Way , a spiral galaxy about 100,000 light-years across.The Milky Way galaxy is just one of a billion of galaxies in the universe.So how does space have a edge?

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  • Hammond School logo zestful_mouse | Hammond Junior School A
    09 Dec 2019

    I really like space and I would like to see how big space is and how old it is.

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  • Hammond School logo free_hedgehog | Hammond Junior School A
    13 Dec 2019

    I don't really think space is expanding because what else who.uld be at the end if there was an end in space.

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  • Hammond School logo giving_elephant | Hammond Junior School A
    13 Dec 2019

    I really like space because I would want to go to space and explore it.

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