8.5 The Cosmic Engine

Section of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image
Credit: NASA, ESA, S. Beckwith (STSci) and the HUDF Team.
A section of the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field showing part of the Universe. Galaxies and stars are clearly visible in the image.

The Cosmic Engine provides you with an overview of the scale and structure of the Universe - from the smallest quarks to clusters of galaxies. In this module you will examine current scientific theories on the origin and evolution of the Universe, stars and galaxies. You will also learn about earlier attempts to model and understand the Universe by looking at people such as Newton and Aristotle. The module concludes with an examination of our Sun, its sources of energy and its interaction and impact with our Earth.

About this online unit

The material presented here specifically addresses the syllabus requirements for the Preliminary (Year 11) core module 8.5 The Cosmic Engine, for the previous NSW Stage 6 (HSC) Physics syllabus. With the introduction of a new syllabus in 2018 this topic is no longer directly taught in NSW. As such these pages will no longer be updated however they will be kept online as  the material is also suitable for students in other states and others interested in astronomy, cosmology and nuclear physics.

Themes and Other Key Pages

The Cosmic Engine module can be broken up into four themes, reflecting the bold points within the syllabus. These are:

  1. Early Models of the Universe
  2. Cosmology, the Big Bang and Formation of Large-Scale Structure
  3. The Lives of Stars
  4. The Sun and its Influence on Earth ***NEW, Full material now online***

In addition there is a page of key links that includes large or relevant sites and material related to the HSC and the Cosmic Engine module. An online glossary of important terms is also available (this is part of the HSC Astrophysics option site but has a link back to here).

External links are indicated by a dashed underline in blue. Links to other pages in the site are simply blue text with no underline.

Contextual Outline (from NSW Physics Syllabus)

The Universe began with a singularity in space-time. After the initial explosion, the Universe started to expand, cool and condense, forming matter. As part of this ongoing process the Sun and the Solar System were formed over 4x109 years ago from a gas cloud which resulted from a supernova explosion. The condensing gas and dust that formed the Sun and the planets contained all its original elements. The planets were formed when matter came together under the influence of gravity.

This module increases students’ understanding of the history of physics, implications of physics for society and the environment and current issues, research and developments in physics.

Physics Stage 6 Syllabus © Copyright 2002 The State of New South Wales (Board of Studies).

Most of the material in this unit has been written by Robert Hollow whilst some has been adapted from the original version written by Helen Sim.