Part 3 – The first ‘air strikes’. Earth is smashed with mountain-sized asteroids.

Do you like the taste of hydrogen? Imagine consuming nothing but hydrogen all day and pooping out oxygen. If you were a Cyanobacteria, about the time the earth was a billion years old, that would be your mission and you would have been both loved and hated; loved by the new breed of cells that could lap up all the rich oxygen fuel. Too bad for those anaerobic organisms that were the only life on earth back then.

All this oxygen was also laying the foundation for a few future humans to get rich mining all that iron that was rusting out of the water and falling to the bottom to become widespread iron ore deposits.
Not long after the first layers were put down, a small mountain-sized rock smacked into Western Australia, about where some of the world’s richest deposits can be found. It left a crater 60 kilometres or 36 miles across. Not like the baby pictured here.

The Sun has managed 8 laps around the galaxy by 2.63 billion years ago and the earth had slowed its giddy spin to a more sedate 13 hour day. The moon covered half the night sky so it could barely be called ‘night’ due to the vast amount of reflected light that lit up the place when the sun wasn’t shining.

Close moon. Everything important that ever happened. History of the Universe.

Nipping forward now, another quarter of a billion years, (2.38 billion years ago) the Sun had its 9th birthday and the rising oxygen levels had killed off most single cell life but for reasons not yet confirmed, the place got cold. Well, that COULD be a bit of an understatement.  Most probably a super volcano or a massive up-welling of magma caused the atmosphere to block out the warming sunlight in a runaway cold snap that saw ice spread from the poles, all the way north and south to the equator. The first ‘Snowball Earth’ event begins. (Read the scientific arguments about the hypothesis here).snowball earth

By 2.130 million years ago, the place was still frozen, the Sun had now travelled 10 times around the galaxy and a day takes just 15 hours before sunrise rise again. Not long after, the massive land mass of the super continent Nuna allows the future northern Europe and north America to wander off and in the process, probably once again by slow release volcanic activity, the earth’s surface begins to thaw and the first ‘Snowball Earth’ event was done. Oxygen is the new fuel.

It was a lovely morning, a little over 2 billion years ago, lovely by early earth standards anyway. The air had improved considerably in the last 1,000 million years, gone was the usual toxic mix (to us) of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, replaced by a more comfortable mix that included a copious amount of oxygen, thanks to the efforts of the hardworking blue-green algae. Some of their descendants still live in Australia, as it happens, still pumping out oxygen just as granddad did.

So it came as a nasty surprise when a rock, about the size of Pluto came to visit, travelling at the unfriendly speed of a bullet, only fast. The piece of land it targeted was to become a future South Africa, when that land eventually settled in its present position and we could give it a name. South Africa carried the scar, a hole in the ground 300 kilometres across, that’s 180 miles for the metrically challenged, all that way from the south pole.asteroid impact

There is one hole that’s even bigger, caused by a different asteroid, but it’s on Mars.

The crater was deep too, about as deep as a transcontinental commercial aircraft is high. Next time you are flying, imagine you are now standing on the edge of the hole, which is probably fair too as you wouldn’t be able to see the other side anyway. Standing on the edge of a 30,000 foot cliff might have been a bit unnerving though.

Of course, it’s been filled in quite a bit since then, what with rivers pouring silt and rocks into the crater for a couple of billion years. Even a hole that size can be filled in eventually.

After a couple of thousand years things settled down and for the following 43 million years, everything was on ‘slow and steady’ time, building up to celebrating The Sun’s 11th birthday, having just completed another orbit around the galaxy. The party lasted 16 hours too, as the earth’s rotation has slowed quite a bit since it collided with little sister Theia all those years ago, creating the original 6 hour day.

The Moon, which was the consequence, the child, of Theia’s visit, had also moved off quite a bit, having drifted out to 273,000 kilometes (168,000 miles give or take) so the tides were somewhat less than the 1000 foot high monster tides of the early days.

All about The Moon. No, really.

Before The Sun could celebrate another birthday, and there is a fair wait too as they only come around once every 250 million years, another asteroid dropped in, this time onto Canada. This one was not quite as big as Pluto but a lot bigger than Mt Everest and it left the second biggest crater on planet earth at an impressive 250 kilometres wide.asteroid

As it happens, by the time of the 12th orbit a little later, another smallish mountain, more of a hill really, came by, leaving a modest 30 kilometre wide crater. No worries so long as you were a few thousand miles away and didn’t mind a 10 year winter.

One and a half billion years ago, the earth’s crust, which only averages a micro thin 40 kilometres in thickness, began to break up into smaller land masses, drifting across the planet. By now, the earth is getting used to new passengers with another asteroid arriving at the 1.45 billion mark, this time opening up a crater in Western Finland 25 kilometres across.

In the oceans, groups of cells had evolved in response to the new oxygen levels that had killed off the earlier anaerobic inhabitants. Within some of these cell groups, photo receptor proteins, that is, proteins that react to being hit with a photon of light, had been clumping into small groups, known as primitive ‘eye spots’ as a clue to what they will eventually evolve into.

By the Suns 13th birthday, the slowing of the earth’s rotation brought the 18 hour day and by its 14th birthday, the moon was 325,000 kilometres away and a standard day was 19 hours. As if to mark the occasion, 1.1 billion years ago, a small mountain asteroid crashed into Australia leaving a 20 kilometre wide crater behind as it disintegrated into dust.

All was quite then for the next 100 million years except for the silent collision between Europe and America, which, when joined by a couple of other land masses, formed the Rodinia super-continent. At the southern pole, Australia suffered a massive lava flow where ten of thousands of square kilometres of land are covered by a slow train wreck of hot magma being disgorged from deep in the earth.

By the time multi-cell life emerges, around 880 million years ago, The Sun was 15 and the moon had drifted out to 366,000 kilometres although still 40 times larger in the night sky than what we see today.

At 750 million years ago, the super continent Rodinia was breaking up already, with part becoming the Gondwana super continent of which Australia and India were a significant part. Unfortunately, the atmosphere was not doing too well as the high carbon dioxide content was dissolving in the rainwater making acid rain, albeit very mild acid, but enough to be absorbed into the rocky surface. This drop in CO2 meant less warming atmosphere and the earth began to cool down. Fast. Again.

Within a mere 10 million years, ice sheets had formed from the poles and spread towards the equator, for the second time, eventually covering the entire surface, land and sea. ‘Snowball’ earth was back. The ice was 3 kilometres (nearly 2 miles) thick and it would have stayed that way too, if not for the restless liquid inner mantle and sporadically burst though the ice, pumping out vast quantities of carbon dioxide stored in the aforementioned rocks. For 15 million years, volcanic activity put out the warming CO2 blanket. As the remaining ice-covered rock can’t absorb it, the atmosphere began to warm up again and the sea level began to rise.snowball earth

And so we arrive at the 700,000,000 mark, where 80% of the time the earth has been around has passed already. What comes next, happens in the remaining 20%. As if that is not staggering enough, the Universe is so old, 95% of the time it has existed so far, has passed, so all that we have yet to record here, happens in the remaining 5% of time to the present day. (What happened in the first squillion years?)

In that small window, we need to fit in most of what we know about life, but incredibly, even from point, we have to wait another 100 million years just to meet the first animal life.

Humans? Maybe in the last few minutes.

This article covers around 30 of the 300 ‘Days’ in the Diary of the Universe.

(You can see ALL the interesting ‘days’ in the magnificent science poster which you can download and print. See what it looks like here.)

 

Part Two – A Lucky Escape For The Newly Born Earth

A lot of gas and dust had been gathering in a certain corner of the Milky Way. It was 4,630 million years ago, that’s 4.63 billion, if you can get your head around big numbers and for some time, the gas cloud had been getting denser, thicker, heavier, blocking out the light from nearby stars. As atom piled upon atom, each attracted by the mass of other atoms at the centre of the cloud, space was warming up as the heat generated by the pressure built up. Close by the cloud, it was too hot to be exposed and the gravity was so strong, any particle, atom, rock or passing comet, was pulled in towards a terminal meeting with the cloud, a guaranteed end to existence.

One day, maybe it was a Monday, the last atom required to set off this time bomb rocketed into the cloud and the crushing gravitational mass began fusing the hydrogen and helium atoms under the incredible pressure, releasing a steady stream of energy radiating out in all directions and a brilliant white light of hot plasma lit up the area for billions of miles.

We call it The Sun. The full story of how it came to be, can be found in …..
‘Day 21: The Birth of The Sun’.

(The ‘Diary of the Universe’ covers about 300 ‘Days’ each with its own story)

As ancient as our 4,630,000,000 year old sun is, on the day it was born, two thirds of all the time that has ever existed in our Universe, had already passed by.

The gravitational forces were so powerful, every scrap of material for millions of miles was pulled into the nuclear furnace that was fusing the gas atoms at millions of degrees. Way out in the blackness, where the gravity was weakest, a few rocks were orbiting the star like weights on the end of a string, travelling too fast to fall into the fire but too close to escape, doomed to spend forever or even longer trapped on the longest voyage possible.

In total, they made up less than one percent, less than one fifth of one percent, a minuscule 0.14% of the material within influence of the star. Our planet is just a small part of that 0.14%. We are a million times smaller than The Sun.

A trifling 130 million years later, our bit of rock was still a bit warm from all the ‘aggregation’ a fancy way of saying lots of rocks were piling in on top of each other melting the early adopters until we had a core of molten magma containing a handy few million tonnes of gold and other heavy bits.

On the surface, the rock was still moving there too, oozing around at about 1200 degrees Celsius. Above the bubbling cauldron, the atmosphere was a heady mixture of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and a touch of water vapor. Sorry, no oxygen.

While the earth was waiting for things to cool down a bit, it could not avoid the annoying interruption of large bits of rock that were the left over crumbs from the Sun’s table. Annoying as being pelted with rocks can be, it was nothing compared to the visitor that was set to arrive a little while later.

Just 155 million years after our little planet got a start in life, just a baby, a rather hot babe, a little sister arrived. Yes indeed, we used to have one more planet in our neighbourhood and her name was Theia. She was by all accounts, a cute little thing, about the size of Venus and she popped in travelling at about 5 times the speed of a bullet.

The meeting was not a gentle affair, no gentle sisterly kiss, rather more like a headbutt of gargantuan proportions, an upper cut from the south west that nearly missed us, but it didn’t. Where a future northern hemisphere would be, siblings came together with a crash of unbelievable violence, which gets its own article on
The planet Theia colliding with earth. Everything important that ever happened. History of the Universe.
‘Day 25 – The Day The Earth Crashed’.

For the next 100 years, a microsecond of Universal time, rocks that got themselves blasted off into space, rained down, upon the earth, creating some mighty splashes in the molten goo. The interesting bit was that only about half came back. “What happened to the rest”?, one may ask. Look up my son, on most nights you will see the other bit. Yes, it’s the moon albeit a lot further away than on that sunny morn.

Close moon. Everything important that ever happened. History of the Universe.By the time ‘Day 27’ comes around, 4.38 billion years ago, it was an anniversary of sorts, mainly for the Sun, because it had just completed its very first birthday, aka, one trip around the galaxy. If all goes well, it should be able to make about 40 circuits before the light goes out. (So far, The Sun has make 20 circuits, putting it in middle age so I guess the earth is middle aged now too, as we have been faithfully tagging along since the beginning.)

It took a good half a billion years for the temperature to drop far enough for the surface rock to solidify, forming a thin, hard crust on a liquid core. The earth was tilted off the vertical by 24 degrees by the massive impact with Theia which will turn out to be a very good thing, giving us the seasons that will stimulate and sustain life, when it finally arrives.

By the time The Sun has its second birthday, the Moon has moved away from its initial position, a very close 22,000 kilometres, to 68,000 kilometres away.

The accumulation of rock over the past half billion years, including the donation by Theia, has added considerably to the mass of the earth which encourages even more debris, pulled in from the outer reaches by earth’s strong gravity of the mass of the rock and iron core composition.bombardment

By the third lap around the galaxy, water degassed from the mantle together with vast volumes delivered by billions of meteors, primarily composed of ice, covers the whole solid surface of the planet. By ‘Day 32’ the earth has slowed down a bit, from the giddy 6 hour day just after the collision, to a slightly more sedate seven and a half hours.

Over the next 200 million years volcanic activity really got underway, pushing up many islands across the whole planet. The moon is 87,000 kilometres away now, (50k miles) and still causing massive 1,000 foot high tines. By ‘Day 35’ the sun completes its fourth orbit around the centre of our galaxy, and as the earth’s spin slows to a 9 hour day, molecules of chemical elements form the first single cell.

This article covers just about 20 ‘Days’ in the Diary of the Universe, the full list of 300 events can be found here.
There are about 300 ‘Days’ of Earth History, listed in our ‘Diary of The Universe’ poster and it’s interesting to follow the development of our little patch. You can download the whole poster for printing.

All about The Moon. No, really.

(You can see ALL the interesting ‘days’ in the magnificent science poster which you can download and print. See what it looks like here.)

History Of The Universe

History Of The Universe

2 weeks 3 days ago

What chance would be have now of surviving these old…

Part three of our journey. We could never survive this now.https://earthpast.com/group-articles/part-3-the-first-air-strikes-earth-is-smashed-with-mountain-sized-asteroids/

History Of The Universe

2 weeks 3 days ago

Part three of our journey. We could never survive this…

History Of The Universe

2 weeks 6 days ago

A huge magnificent poster/chart of the happenings of the universe…

History Of The Universe

3 weeks 12 hours ago

History Of The Universe shared their post.

History Of The Universe

Part one. What happened exactly, before the earth was born?

A million years is quite a slice of time, but imagine 13,800 of them. That’s 13.8 billion and that’s when your life story actually begins.

Perhaps the greatest understatement, serenely floating around in the vastness of the universe is the term “Big Bang”. Nothing comes close to describing what happened in that first second, not atomic weapons, not exploding stars, not even supernovae.

And, if we cherish our understatements a little longer, it was hot. Not hot like anything that could be formed on a planet, not hot like the sun which by comparison is like standing next to the air conditioning on a coolish day, but really, really hot.  So hot that nothing existed, not even sub-atomic particles and everything that was to come, the stars, the planets, the universe itself was packed into a space so small, by normal definition it did not even exist. It was energy, finite, but by our standards, may as well be infinite energy.Albert Einstein, Diary of The Universe

And Energy equals Mass as Albert informed us, E=MC2 which means Energy is same as multiplying Mass (called ‘weight’ here on earth) by the Speed of light by the Speed of light (ie, squared). This means that although there was ‘nothing’ there was also ‘everything’ at the same time.

What triggered the blast, the release of that energy, may not be fully established yet, we have some competing hypotheses to work with, however it is fairly certain science will eventually create methods for testing, so we settle the matter.

What we do know is that is happened and what happened in the time slot just after the “pop” is interesting but a bit hard to comprehend. Like everything else on the subject, the time slot is impossibly short, a Planck, a fraction of a second but only much smaller, a billion, billionth etc.) it was too hot to have nuclear forces or even gravity.Max Planck with Alvert Einstein, Diary of The UniverseMax Planck with Albert Einstein

(That’s 0.000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,001th of a second if you’re interested).

Now we all “know” that nothing travels faster than the speed of light, but during this briefest of periods before the second Planck, we had space inflation which did just that. It was so fast, the forces blasted out were moved apart more by the expanding space than by the explosion and none of that fits with what scientists already know. So far.

Then we had some cooling down to temperatures that are still so hot they are way beyond our comprehension and things like gravity, nuclear forces and electromagnetism were separated into individual forces in their own right. (To be a little more accurate, the first one out of the blocks was the weak nuclear force which broke loose in the 4 zeros between the 36th and the 32nd  part of the first second when the inflation ended.)

Particles popped into existence by the collisions of energy particles (which have no mass or “weight”) into bosons which converted the energy into a particle which actually has mass. There was no ‘something from nothing’ at least from the point where the ‘bang’ occurred as there was definitely a lot of energy (another understatement) so by default there was mass, a lot of it, as they are the same thing.

From 20 seconds to 380,000,000 years (that’s 380 million years) may seem a bit of a jump to us with our mini time scales but for the universe it wasn’t even late morning when the hydrogen ions and the helium ions begin to capture electrons to become stable, electrically charged neutral atoms. Solid matter at last.

In the open reaches of space, vast clouds of stable atoms of helium and hydrogen would later coalesce under gravity to ignite the stars, but for now, some were joining forces to create organic molecules making interesting things like ice, but really, something more exciting is overdue.

600 million years later, gravity has pulled massive amounts of hydrogen and helium together. The first nuclear fires, stars form.

The very first galaxy was not large as it only takes about 300 years for the light from the outside stars to reach the middle of the pack.

That galaxy could be MACS0647-JD. It’s not a very glamorous name for what may be the first galaxy, but that’s what we have called the light picked up by one of the Hubble Telescope’s programs called the Cluster Lensing and Supernova survey. The scientists had chosen a “quiet spot” to look, somewhere southwest of Orion. It is hardly sufficient to say it is long way from here because the light from this galaxy has been scooting along at 186,000 miles per second for 13,300,000,000 years and only just arrived this morning.

Ok, so we accept the first one is a long way from here, but there are at least 10,000 others out there too in the same outer region and each one had their own billion stars (had, as they have almost certainly expired already).

The probing of this particular part of the universe is an extremely small window, an area equal to about one tenth of the night sky obscured by the moon. In between us and the long distant galaxy, new galaxies are still being formed so the universe is a pretty dynamic place these days.

To collect all that light from even a small part of the night sky takes time. You can’t just take a shot with your digital camera and head off to the pub. The instruments are set for lengthy periods of exposure with multiple readings collated via complex computer computations for the right result. To get the same level of detail for the whole night sky, the photography session would need to last a million years, give or take so we may have to settle for just this one spot for now.

Massive volumes of hydrogen and helium atoms were attracted to each other by gravity, by far the weakest of the 4 forces of nature. But because the strength of gravity is governed by the mass of the objects, qualified by how close they are to each other, gravity can become somewhat pressing.

(Actually, gravity always wins because despite being the weakest force, well behind the nuclear forces and electromagnetism, it acts long-range. Eventually objects become bigger, making gravity stronger as the mass increases.)

In this case, as the atoms bumped into each other they gradually became bound together in an ever increasing mass. The strength increased with each additional atom until the new additions were pressing down on the earlier atoms with so much force, the temperature soared something approaching 15 million of degrees.

When the temperature reached the critical point, the whole lot erupted in a nuclear fire that we call a star. Fortunately, the star does not explode in the normal sense or even “burn” in the normal sense as there is no appreciable oxygen to facilitate combustion.

As it happens, the temperature is so high, the pressure so great that hydrogen atoms begin to fuse releasing helium and energy. Strangely, the level of energy produced by a star is fairly low when measured as a percentage of its mass, but it has a lot of mass. As a result we get a very bright spot in the sky which releases a lot of energy and in the case of the earth, that is a good thing.

Fortunately the action in the core is counter-balanced by the gravity pull on the outer two thirds, so we end up with a stable firework that will persist for about 8 billion years. Our star is about half way through and while the temperature its core is 15 million degrees, where the fusion is taking place, out on the “surface” it’s a very much milder 5800 degrees, very much less than 1% of the core temperature and, perversely, less than the temperature in the corona, way above the surface at the edge of Sun’s ‘atmosphere’.

By 13 billion years ago, the first stars are clumped into the first galaxies which is essentially, a whole lot of stars clumped together, but in terms of distance, “clumped together” hardly gives an accurate impression of the size of a galaxy.

Take our own galaxy The Milky Way as an example. Our Sun is just one of 200,000 million similar stars but to get from one side of the galaxy to the other, will you’d need to pack a big lunch.

Technically, it may be possible to build a craft that could travel close to the speed of light. It would have to be very large to accommodate enough fuel to burn constantly for several years, but eventually it could reach speeds approaching 186,000 miles per second. At this speed you could get to the middle (once you decide where exactly that is) in about 20,000 or maybe 30,000 years. If you went the other way, to visit another galaxy, well, they are rather a long way from each other so there’s probably not much chance of visiting another galaxy anytime soon.

In Universal terms however, galaxies are not that far apart and they tend to be in clusters too, anywhere from a couple of dozen to a several thousand. Virgo for example is a super-cluster and has something approaching 2,500 galaxies. Three of these galaxies are really giant ellipticals and each one is around a million light years across. Compare that against our own humble spiral’s 100,000 light years across. We’re actually in a relatively isolated group of only 50 galaxies including the Andromeda, which we will get to shortly.

We shouldn’t assume that seen one galaxy you’ve seen them all. Our home galaxy is the spiral type full of extra gas and dust with long arms in which new stars are being formed continuously. Other types have practically no gas clouds and have different shapes too, including lenticular, elliptical galaxies and irregular galaxies like the dwarf Sagittarius galaxy currently being  ”eaten” by the Milky Way. (It rotates through us at a right angle to the disc and every time it passes through, more stars are ripped off to become part of the Milky Way.)

Some of the small galaxies can have a mere 10 million stars. Ten million like our Sun. Imagine having a dollar for every million stars. If you owned a small one, you’d only have $10 but if you owned the Milky Way, you’d have $200,000. Now if you owned a really big galaxy, well the larger ones have up to 10 trillion stars Of course you would have to be careful how you treated the super black hole in the middle.

When galaxies meet, as ours will when it runs into Andromeda, at a leisurely 500 kilometres a second, there is little chance of stars directly colliding because of the space between t hem, but gravity will severely distort the shape of the combined mass. After they pass through each other and throw out a few unfortunate stars into intergalactic space, they will slow down, essentially stop and start moving back towards each other again for another collision. Eventually they will become one. Of course, we will not be around to witness the best bits as the process takes somewhere between a couple of hundred million years and a really long time.

12 billion years ago, after an unimaginable time span of 1,800 million years since the Big Bang, stars in this area ignite forming the Milky Way, our home galaxy

It’s somehow comforting to think we have neighbours, perhaps lots of them, in our locality. Our galaxy is a spiral, that is, a centre disc with 4 major arms and fairly big as galaxies go, nothing like the real big ones but not a tiddler either at 120,000 light years across.

If our Sun and Solar System was the size of a coin the Milky Way would be about the size of China or the US.

 

 

 

If you thought of it as a very big city 120 kilometres across, our suburb (which in addition to the Sun has another half a billion other stars probably all with their own solar system) is 27 kilometres out of town on the Orion–Cygnus arm. All up, as far as we know, there are between 200 and 400 million stars here, but you can’t just count them and on average, it produces one new star every year although that many probably close up shop too.

The main problem is that not only are we a fair way out of town, on one of the big avenues, there are three others just as big. (Actually we are not right on the avenue, more like a side street off one of the main avenues.)  To put that into perspective, if our Sun and Solar System was one inch disk (25mm) the Milky Way would be about the size of China or the US.

When you think that our solar system has 8 planets made up from the leftovers from the sun’s birth, it’s hard to imagine all those other suns out there don’t also have at least a handful of planets too. To add to the fun, recent data from the Kepler space mission points to planets that are not attached to stars, just wandering about, probably a couple of hundred million of them.

Getting back to planets doing the right thing, the data strongly suggest that there are up to 40,000,000,000 planets orbiting stars in the habitable zones and 11,000,000,000 of those look just like our Sun. This is just in our galaxy so all that adds up to a lot of neighbours, but don’t expect a visit tomorrow. The nearest star to us (other than the Sun obviously) would take more than four years to get to and that’s only if we can work out some way to travel at the speed of light and we don’t bump into a speck of dust or something a little larger. The closest one that might have an earth-type planet is 12 light years away.

The reason the neighbourhood has a milky look about it is that our vision has only evolved to help us find things to eat and avoid others that might want us for lunch. Our eyes did not evolve to see stars, which is why we can only see about 10,000 of them (all in the Milky Way, although some argue Omega Centauri is just outside our galaxy) meaning we can see one star in 40,000. (An exception is the temporary super-bright flash of the death of a star, a supernova). The light from the rest blends into the band of light we see on dark nights. The dark patches are caused by interstellar dust that masks the light from the stars.

It must have come as quite a surprise to Galileo, to see so many stars when he put his telescope up to his Mark-1 eyeball in the year 1610. He was the guy who worked out the earth was not the centre of anything and got belted up by the Catholic Church for saying so. All the way up to the 1920’s scientists thought the Milky Way was the only show in town.

Man, were they wrong, and by a margin that’s impossible to grasp. There are literally billions of other galaxies out there (170 billion to put a figure on it) most of them holding billions of suns and you can’t even see one star with the naked eye, only a few distant galaxies of stars.

By 11 billion years ago, the first stars in the Milky Way were 1,000 million years old and by 10 billion years ago, the galaxy had taken on its spiral shape, continuously creating new stars. It’s sobering to think that at this stage our Sun is still 5.4 billion years in the future.

At the 9.5 billion year mark, while some new stars are forming, some are already collapsed after burning up their hydrogen, but at this point, there are no planets yet. Half a billion years later and dying stars, red giants like the future for our Sun, fuse hydrogen into atoms of the 26 lightest elements, lithium, carbon, oxygen through to iron. Atoms of iron were now abundant in space.

At the 8.5 billion year mark, the big boys were making their mark, Supernovas, the death of massive stars, explode and form large quantities of the 60 heavy elements including silver, gold and  uranium. Vast amounts of these elements combine with iron to form rocky planets which now orbit close to new stars. Further out gas giants, too small to become stars, orbit.

Despite production of massive amounts of other elements, hydrogen and helium still make up 98% of reflective matter and now, at 6 billion years, the universe is already twice as old as planet earth will be, when it is born in another 1,360 million years forward of this time.

At 5 billion years ago, after more than 8 billion years have passed, a cloud of dust, gas and debris coalesce into a massive hot object in this outer region of our galaxy. A mere 400,000 years later, light emerges from the cloud and our Sun is born, and with it, a little planet we call home.

Size of the earth

‘Day’ 21. The Birth of The Sun

The History of the universe
‘Day’ 83. The First Real Fire in the Solar System

The planet Theia colliding with earth. Everything important that ever happened. History of the Universe.

 

‘Day’ 25. The Day the Earth Crashed.

There are about 300 ‘Days’ of Earth History, listed in our ‘Diary of The Universe’ poster and it’s interesting to follow the development of our little patch. You can download the whole poster for printing.

All about The Moon. No, really.

(You can see ALL the interesting ‘days’ in the magnificent science poster which you can download and print. See what it looks like here.)