Ray P Norris
We pretty well understand how the Universe started, 13.7 billion years ago, as long as you don’t ask embarrassing questions like “What caused it?” or “What was there before the Big Bang?”. We can then plug in our physics, roll the scenario forward, and we find things like stars and galaxies forming pretty well as observed. Only trouble is, it all happens too slowly. In the real Universe, our most powerful telescopes see super-massive black holes forming within a billion years of the Big Bang, and we’ve no idea why. We see stars turning on about the same time, and that’s way too early for our models. So we know we’ve got something wrong, and that’s really exciting for a scientist, because that’s when discoveries happen.
The world astronomical community is attacking these challenges by planning to build a big new billion-dollar radio-telescope, the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), either in Australia or South Africa. And right now, CSIRO is building a $100million SKA pathfinder telescope in Western Australia, which may solve some of these puzzles in only 2-3 years time.
In this talk, I’ll describe our current understanding of how stars, galaxies, and black holes formed after the Big Bang, and evolved into the modern Universe. Then I’ll tell you why this is wrong, and show you some sneak previews of the telescope we are building to figure out why.