So this is what the big bang looks like?
But there weren't oceans and continents in the big bang, were there?
What is this Cosmic Microwave Background? Does it come with cosmic microwave popcorn?
Who are you?
Why the Big Bang Registry?
But I thought only the IAU could name extra-terrestrial objects
What kind of names can I choose?
Where is the prime real estate?
Is this a joke?
Why should I donate?
Why didn't my name show up on the map?
Will this be here forever?
We're glad you asked! These maps are full-sky 360° views of the universe as seen from our solar system. One of them was taken with an infrared camera so it looks pretty much normal, the other two are different versions of the oldest picture ever taken of the universe - just 160,000 years after the Big Bang.
This is close as we can see, kind of like missing the first 30 seconds of a movie.
Nope. The high parts of our map (land) represent hotter regions of space right after the big bang, and the lower parts (water) represent colder regions of space. Before you say that we're crazy, remember that there aren't oceans on the moon, either, but humans still named the big flat spots "seas." And since the moon has been named using familiar earth-terms, we don't see why it shouldn't be done with the Cosmic Microwave Background.
It sounds like you want to learn more about the Big Bang and other cosmic physics - you should check out our Education section! The rest of this page will be for less cosmic questions.
We are just two regular guys - one of us is a working theoretical physicist, the other makes physics videos on youtube (maybe you've heard of them? They're called MinutePhysics). We're both based at the Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics, and we hope to provide a fun and educational experience for science enthusiasts, teachers, aspiring cosmologists, and especially other physicists.
We gazed, like our ancestors before us, upon the skies*, and it was only a matter of time before we found curious shapes and patterns and began to wonder if the things we saw had names... and when we found they didn't, we took it upon ourselves to create a map to capture and share the glory of the heavens with the world.
You are correct. The International Astronomical Union is the organization that officially names celestial bodies like stars, planets, and so on. Because there are so many of them, most stars and galaxies are just given a number like M87 or HD 48915 B. Of course, many of the brighter stars and constellations already have popular names like Orion and Polaris, but these names vary across cultures and aren't exclusive in any way. Similarly, the names on our map are merely a "Qualitative Geography" of the big bang, and while we're excited for you to help us develop MinutePhysics culture and create names for the features on the map, they probably won't be recognized by any official scientific or legal organization. But we can keep our fingers crossed!
You can pick any name you want, though we reserve the right to keep our map a family-friendly place.
The Orion Nebula has experienced booming growth in recent months, though if you're looking for a quieter ambience you might try the outskirts of Ursa Major. Stay away from Virgo unless you enjoy neighbors who are highly sensitive to perceived criticism and worry unduly about the need to make things perfect.
As a matter of fact, the Big Bang Registry did indeed start as a joke, but we soon realised that other people might also like to see how awesome the CMB is.
Would you like to see MinutePhysics videos released more frequently? Or new videos by the creators of MinutePhysics on other topics like math, earth science, biology, linguistics, and so on? What about a MinutePhysics picturebook explaining quantum mechanics or special relativity? Or an online course, or a visit to your school? Donations allow MinutePhysics to keep sharing the awesomeness of physics with the world.
Also, you get to name a feature on our map of the Big Bang, and if you're feeling extra-generous, we've got a bunch of sweet thank-you gifts.
Names don't show up until you complete the whole naming process. If you've done that, try refreshing your browser and/or emptying your browser's file cache. If you still think there's a problem, get in touch with us via our About page.
Until the next big bang.