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ASTR101: Introduction to Astronomy

Unit 8: The Early Universe   In this unit, you will be introduced to the events occurring in the first few hundred thousand years of the existence of the universe.  You will learn how the expansion of space cooled the universe, allowing a progressive hierarchy of structures to develop, from protons and neutrons through the formation of neutral atoms and the production of the cosmic background radiation.

Unit 8 Time Advisory
This unit should take approximately 7 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 6.1: 3 hours

☐    Subunit 6.2: 2 hours

☐    Assessment: 2 hours

Unit8 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, students will be able to: - List the sequence of formation of structures in the early history of the universe. - Identify and explain the role of expanding space in development of structures in the early universe. - List the most significant properties of the cosmic background radiation. - Compare and contrast the state of the universe before and after the formation of the cosmic background radiation.

8.1 The Formation of Structures in the Early Universe   - Reading: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 8: The Early Universe” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 8: The Early Universe” (PDF)

 Instructions: This article provides an overview of the material we
will cover in Unit 8.  Read it carefully, but please don’t think
that you have to fix every single fact into your memory.  What you
should strive for is to be sure that it makes sense to you as you
are reading it and that when you are finished could briefly
summarize the main points of the reading.  You should read this both
as you start and after you have finished working your way through
the unit.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Reading: University of California, Berkeley’s The Universe Adventure: “Quarks Come Together” Link: University of California, Berkeley’s The Universe Adventure: “Quarks Come Together” (HTML)

    Instructions: This page contains information and animations on the formations of protons and neutrons in the early universe.  The animation on nucleosynthesis only shows the first step of the process, the combining of a proton and a neutron.  At the bottom of the site, there is a link titled “Cosmic Conundrums: Era 2.”  Click on it to take a short quiz.

    Exploring this site should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

8.2 The Formation of the Cosmic Background Radiation   - Reading: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Physics and Astronomy: “The Cosmic Background Radiation” Link: The University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Department of Physics and Astronomy: “The Cosmic Background Radiation” (HTML)

 Instructions: This article discusses the formation and detection of
the cosmic background radiation.  

 Reading this article should take approximately 15 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.
  • Web Media: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Cosmic Background Radiation” Link: YouTube: Khan Academy’s “Cosmic Background Radiation” (YouTube)

    Instructions: The format of this video is a blackboard presentation.

    Watching this video should take approximately 15 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Assessment: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 8 Assessment” Link: The Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 8 Assessment” (PDF)

    Instructions: When you have finished the entire unit, please complete this assessment without referring to the readings.  When you are finished with the assessment, you can check your answers against the Saylor Foundation’s “Unit 8 Assessment – Answer Key” (PDF).

    Completing this assessment should take approximately 2 hours.