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What Happened After the Big Bang?

Michael Anissimov
Updated May 21, 2024
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The Big Bang is the origin of the universe, occurring approximately 13.7 billion years ago. It began as a point of nearly zero volume and tremendous density. Then this point started stretching outward in all directions, not expanding within space but causing the expansion of space itself.

The first period of time immediately after the Big Bang is known as the Planck epoch, which occurred during the first 10-43 seconds after it. Little is known about this period, because our current physical theories cannot probe smaller timescales than this. It is thought that all the four fundamental forces — strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetism, and gravity — were unified at this point, serving as one superforce. Scientists are working on physical theories to help describe this epoch. By the end of the Planck era, the force of gravity separated from the other three, creating gravity and the so-called electronuclear force.

After the Planck epoch was the grand unification epoch, occurring 10-43 to 10-35 seconds after the Big Bang. The universe was smaller than a quark (a type of subatomic particle) with temperatures higher than 1027 K. This is about 1012 times more energetic than collision points inside the largest particle accelerators. As the universe expanded and cooled, and the electronuclear force broke apart into its constituents: the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, and electromagnetism. By the end of the grand unification epoch, the universe was about the size of a proton.

The grand unification epoch was followed by the inflationary epoch, during which the universe grew by a factor of at least 1026, and possibly much larger. The inflationary epoch lasted only about 10-32 seconds, but during this time, the universe grew from the size of a proton to the size of a grapefruit or larger. Its volume increased by a factor of at least 1078. The universe expanded many times faster than the speed of light, explained by noting that the space itself was expanding, even though nothing within space broke the universal speed limit.

After the inflationary epoch, the universe continued to expand, until it became what it is today — a behemoth at least 92 billion light years in size, and maybe much more.

All The Science is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Michael Anissimov
By Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology, astronomy, chemistry, and futurism to his articles. An avid blogger, Michael is deeply passionate about stem cell research, regenerative medicine, and life extension therapies. His professional experience includes work with the Methuselah Foundation, Singularity Institute for Artificial Intelligence, and Lifeboat Foundation, further showcasing his commitment to scientific advancement.
Discussion Comments
By anon352717 — On Oct 24, 2013

I feel sorry for people who think evolution is stupid. Isn't it nice that one video can answer all your questions? Do you think you aren't evolved from your parents? For the most part, that is natural selection in the human world.

Let's look at the world of domestic animals, specifically, dogs. This is an example of evolution controlled by humans. Look at the great variety: from chihuahuas to great danes and so on. These are all evolved from wolves and other wild dogs. Did the world see roving packs of chihuahuas or great danes before man got involved? And yet you believe evolution doesn't exist.

Man's effort removed natural selection from the equation. He controlled what could possibly (but not likely) happen in nature. Evolution is just as real as any religion, just as the nose on your face is an evolution of your mom and dad.

By anon342946 — On Jul 25, 2013

You guys really need to go online and watch the Kent Hovind video "100 reasons why I think evolution is stupid". Maybe, if you have a mind of your own, you will understand why evolution is always going to be just a "theory" and can never have taken place that way.

If you believe you came from primordial soup being struck by lightning, a monkey, or a rock I really feel sorry for you. And by the way, if you believe in "ghosts", or "spirits" that people see then you should believe that the spirit lives on after this life, just like the Bible says. Yes, I am a follower of the teachings of Jesus. Criticize all you want and I will wear it as a badge of honor.

By anon327555 — On Mar 28, 2013

Wouldn't the gravitational pull of the initial big bang mass particles still exert an outward pulling force on the universe, causing it to continually expand if you assume the density of outlying initial matter was exponentially denser than the remaining matter? (a.k.a. a "reverse black hole")”

By anon323760 — On Mar 06, 2013

The universe is only confusing as long as you believe in dead-end theories. If you don't believe the big bang ever happened, then you don't need to wonder what came before. The sooner physicists realize that the universe functions as a continual, self balancing process, then the sooner they will figure it out. I really thought the physics community as a whole was more intelligent.

By anon318554 — On Feb 07, 2013

Well, what was there 13.8 billion years ago? The Universe is so confusing.

By anon305656 — On Nov 26, 2012

So the big bang theory put everything in place. Earth is at a perfect, life-sustaining distance from the sun. Fruits and vegetables containing vitamins and nutrients just started forming from scratch, the earth and moon over the course of time shaped into these spherical structures, and why has there only been a single big bang? I mean come on. It has been over 13.7 billion years, Why hasn't there been another one? You don't throw a grenade in the forest, hoping when the trees blow up, they will form into furniture.

By anon195652 — On Jul 12, 2011

I have a problem in understanding the possibility of beginning something from point zero. I need little more detailed narrative.

By anon161944 — On Mar 21, 2011

how can something so small be so dense. Why was the first force before the bang?

By anon135529 — On Dec 19, 2010

We tend to think in singular events and the Big Bang Theory is just one of them. I have often thought that this event is an ongoing phenom. Let's suppose that mass is energy in a form that has no mass – yet. Each atomic and subatomic particle is free from each other.

Now enter what is presumed to be a super massive black hole. This could be the combination of all black holes into one in the universe attracting all of this energy to its center. When all of these particles are super compressed there is a change from energy to masses of different proportions and weights caused by the squeezing of like atomic particles. Thus the black hole becomes unstable and we have a super expansion of mass or the first Big Bang. After this event the rest is easy.

All matter, sometime in the future, will be drawn together again and the result will be another super expansion and another and another. As I saw on a science program once, there is enough energy in two handfuls of dirt to power the city of San Francisco for almost a month. But we haven't gotten to the use of quantum energy and probably never will.

By anon131849 — On Dec 04, 2010

arsal from pakistan: Before the big bang there was nothing. i mean the universe was there, but so small in size that it was even smaller then the subparticles but was ultra massive and ultra dance but then due to some instability it started to expand not explode. but before the big bang there still was universe but so small in size that we can not imagine.

By anon109077 — On Sep 05, 2010

what was before the big bang is a good question because how can 'something' come from 'nothing' but everything from that 'something' come from something' so something had to be before the big bang, because everything we understand comes from something (under 16 years old).

By anon95373 — On Jul 12, 2010

But It's impossible for that "expansion" to even happen somewhere that isn't anywhere and isn't anything, because it never existed? Is there anything there (there means nowhere too because there isn't a "there"). why did that expansion happen, what was the trigger? I mean, out of nothing God decided to start the Big Bang from nothing? I mean, why did it happen, what caused it (nothing i guess because nothing existed before, so it's impossible).

By anon94620 — On Jul 09, 2010

@anon94583, you asked what happens in "after life"...

My answer: In my opinion there is no such thing as an afterlife. I believe that you will not exist in any form after you die. It will be like sleeping, but with no breathing. You will not exist. It will be exactly like the time that you did not exist (you were not born). You will not notice anything because there will be no "you."

I believe that "Big Bang" theory is the most rational theory about our existence. But it is completely your choice to choose what you believe. I wish I helped. If you need more information; just read the things I wrote down in the comments section. Cheers!

By anon94583 — On Jul 09, 2010

what galaxy is earth in after the big crunch and started again the big bang? what happens in afterlife? is there another earth for us to live in? will we be like prehistory people when the big crunch happens and started again a big bang and formed a new earth and life? Which is the true theory about the universe: pulsating theory, steady state theory, big bang theory or none of the above?

What if the sun explodes? What will happen to the earth and other planets? How many square meters of the universe?

hope you answer my question.

I'm a grade 6 student from philippines and just curious about the universe.

By anon88413 — On Jun 04, 2010

It is argued that our universe sits in a membrane along with other universes in what is called the multiverse. Our universe was created when two of these membranes collided. It is at this point that time and space began.

The physics beyond this point, time=0 or the big bang, is likely to be completely different to the physics of our universe. Perhaps developments in string theory and the eventual discovery of the graviton will help explain things better but only time will tell.

By someone1624 — On May 21, 2010

anon81824 said: "I really need help with homework. How did the explosion make the universe?"

The Big Bang was not an explosion in space -- it was the expansion of the space itself.

There was a single superforce at the very beginning and then the single superforce divided into four fundamental forces: strong nuclear, weak nuclear, electromagnetism and gravity. The mass was created by using energy and different types of atoms were formed and they formed other stuff in the space. This is the simplest explanation.

Can Aviral from Turkey (16 years old)

By someone1624 — On May 21, 2010

anon33039 said - "what was before the big bang?"

This question is one of the most common questions asked. You can`t ask such a question because the Big Bang created time itself. So questions about what was "before" the Big Bang cannot be asked. The Big Bang was the start of the time-space graph. Where time=0 was the big bang.

So when asking questions about Big Bang please be careful.

Can Aviral from Turkey (16 years old)

By anon82637 — On May 06, 2010

after the explosion of the universe, the universe started to form galaxies. then, planets started to form.

By anon81824 — On May 03, 2010

I really need help with homework. How did the explosion make the universe?

By anon52442 — On Nov 14, 2009

How can the existence of the big bang be possible? Zero volume and infinite density?

By anon33039 — On May 31, 2009

What was before the big bang?

By amrit — On May 18, 2008

if we go back ...than according to big bang, hydrogen formed 300000 years after big bang, elements formed...and before their formation, particle was there, and before it nothing was there...now is this possible that if we go in atom, particularly in nucleus, concentrating upon proton or neutron, if we provide such condition that they can't live....high temp, high pressure or other....than is this possible that we can reach that stage again from where universe begin?????

By amrit — On May 18, 2008

why 15 million years ago it happened that at zero volume very high density collected?? who did that????

Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov
Michael Anissimov is a dedicated All The Science contributor and brings his expertise in paleontology, physics, biology...
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