Why Can't We See Past the Cosmological Horizon?


Quick Answer

It's impossible to look beyond the cosmological horizon because this horizon represents the distance that light has traveled since the big bang. The cosmological horizon exists because the speed of light is constant and all electromagnetic waves travel at the same speed. Therefore, the cosmological horizon holds for visible light as well as for other types of waves, such as radio or microwaves.

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Full Answer

According to NOVA, the cosmological horizon isn't the edge of the total universe, it's only the edge of the visible universe. The visible universe may only be a small part of the entire universe due to cosmic inflation and the acceleration of the universe. The combination of these two ideas means that it's possible for most of the universe to be beyond the cosmological horizon, and some calculations for the size of the universe estimate that it's more than 20 times larger than the visible universe.

Currently, the cosmological horizon is 47 billion light years away, even though the universe is only 14 billion years old. This is also due to the expansion and acceleration of the universe. The light from very distant objects is also the light from very old objects and represents the place where that object was in the universe 14 billion years ago.

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