How the Big Bang Ignited – Solving One Mystery to the Origin of the Universe

Evolution of a Turbulent Flame and Transition to a Detonation

Evolution of a turbulent flame and transition to a detonation in a methane-air mixture. Credit: Alexei Y. Poludnenko, Jessica Chambers, Kareem Ahmed, Vadim N. Gamezo, Brian D. Taylor, Rendering by the U.S. Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program Data Analysis and Assessment Center

University of Central Florida researchers discover mechanisms for the cause of the Big Bang.

Knowing the criteria behind the Big Bang explosion will be key for models scientists use to understand the origin of the universe.

The origin of the universe started with the Big Bang, but how the supernova explosion ignited has long been a mystery — until now.

In a new paper appearing today (November 1, 2019) in Science Magazine, researchers detailed the mechanisms that could cause the explosion, which is key for the models that scientists use to understand the origin of the universe.

“We defined the critical criteria where we can drive a flame to self-generate its own turbulence, spontaneously accelerate, and transition into detonation,” says Kareem Ahmed, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering and co-author of the study.

“When we started to dig deeper, we realized that this is relatable to something as profound as the origin of the universe.” — Kareem Ahmed

“We’re using the turbulence to enhance the mixing of the reactions to the point where it transitions into this violent reaction and essentially leads to supernovas, which is exploding stars in simple terms,” Ahmed says. “We’re taking a simplified flame to where it’s reacting at five times the speed of sound.”

The researcher uncovered the criteria for creating a Big Bang-type explosion while exploring methods for hypersonic jet propulsion.

Jessica Chambers and Kareem Ahmed, University of Central Florida

Jessica Chambers, a doctoral student in the University of Central Florida’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, and Kareem Ahmed, an assistant professor in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, set up the turbulent shock tube they used to help uncover the mechanisms that could have caused the Big Bang. Credit: Karen Norum, UCF Office of Research

“We explore these supersonic reactions for propulsion, and as a result of that, we came across this mechanism that looked very interesting,” he said. “When we started to dig deeper, we realized that this is relatable to something as profound as the origin of the universe.”

The key is applying the right amount of turbulence and mixing to an unconfined flame until it becomes self-perpetuating, at which point the flame begins to burn the ingested energy leading to a Mach 5 hypersonic supernova explosion.

Applications for the discovery could include faster air and space travel and improved power generation, including reactions that generate zero emissions as all of the products used in the combustion are converted into energy. The discovery was made by using a unique turbulent shock tube that allowed explosions to be created and analyzed in a contained environment. Ultra-high-speed lasers and cameras were used to measure the explosions and help indicate what factors were needed to reach the point where a flame becomes a hypersonic, violent reaction.

UCF’s Propulsion and Energy Research Laboratory, where the research was performed, has the only turbulent shock tube for testing hypersonic reactions in the nation.

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Reference: “A unified mechanism for unconfined deflagration-to-detonation transition in terrestrial chemical systems and type Ia supernovae” by Alexei Y. Poludnenko, Jessica Chambers, Kareem Ahmed, Vadim N. Gamezo and Brian D. Taylor, 1 November 2019, Science.
DOI: 10.1126/science.aau7365

Co-authors of the study were Alexei Y. Poludnenko, an associate professor in the University of Connecticut’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and the study’s lead author; Jessica Chambers, a doctoral student in UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; Vadim N. Gamezo, with the Naval Research Laboratory; and Brian D. Taylor, with the Air Force Research Laboratory.

The research was supported with funding from the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. Computing resources were provided by the U.S. Department of Defense High Performance Computing Modernization Program under the Frontier project award, and by the Naval Research Laboratory.

Ahmed earned his doctoral degree in mechanical engineering from University at Buffalo – The State University of New York. He worked at Pratt & Whitney Military Engines and Old Dominion University prior to joining UCF’s Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, part of the College of Engineering and Computer Science, in 2015. He is a faculty member of The Center for Advanced Turbomachinery and Energy Research, associate fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, AFRL Faculty Research Fellow, and a member of UCF’s Energy Conversion and Propulsion Cluster.

20 Comments on "How the Big Bang Ignited – Solving One Mystery to the Origin of the Universe"

  1. Please edit “how the supernova explosion ignited has long been a mystery”. Delete the word “supernova” because it has nothing to do with the Big Bang

  2. Matt Livingston | November 1, 2019 at 10:05 am | Reply

    You’re right that supernovae and the Big Bang are different processes, but the study was about supernova explosions, so “Big Bang” should be removed instead.

  3. One thing has always escaped consideration in every article I have read. Why is the Big Bang or other “start” device always presumed to explode in only one direction? Why would it not be in every direction simultaneously.

    Perhaps it is only available in one direction on 2 dimensional illustrations. That is odd enough to me. It just seems to me that as we “see’ further back in time we ought to be looking at the other side of time.

    • C. Nevell Slater | November 3, 2019 at 1:38 am | Reply

      I agree, Bonnie, and would love to hear from physicists as to why they think it occurred in that manner. Why wouldn’t it expand in all directions simultaneously? A great question. Even when a firecracker is detonated, it bursts outward chaotically, but in all directions. But also, one law of thermodynamics states energy cannot be created, so where did the energy for the BB come from? And if it is accepted as a point of origin in which all energy for this universe was created, then how did that occur? It seems like the more we know, the less we know the answers to the really big underlying questions.

    • Sharp obseervation, Bonnie. And one that have also pondered and gained answers to: Big Bang is a blatant lie.

      Consider the other habit of Astrophysicists to describe inflation in two dimensions (the old knicker elastic stgretch trick), where they attempt to explain the expansion of the universe by stretching an elastic band on which are attached a few pins. If the universe’s expansion truly did manifest in that manner, then galaxial collisions would be patently impossile, and yet…

  4. Professor Abed Peerally | November 1, 2019 at 11:20 am | Reply

    Very interesting research that hopefully will lead to useful applications. However extrapolation of the scheme to the manner of origin of the universe is very speculative. My paper entitled ” The exponential inflation…. of the universe ” published online on academia.edu and vixra describes probably the most genuine and realistic account of the earliest period of the Big Bang. However that article is not the whole story. The real origin of the universe in a complete comprehensive account will soon be published in my coming books in the next few months.

  5. Hard to read an article on the Big Bang that refers to it as an explosion

  6. Digital Bookworm | November 1, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Reply

    They seem to use the terms ‘Big Bang’ and ‘supernova’ interchangeably. 🤔
    One has nothing to do with the other.

    Astrophysics is not rocket science. Supernovas are pretty well understood by actual astrophysicists. If these actual rocket scientists think turbulence has anything to do with the Big Bang they should think about about what could cause turbulence in the void of nothing that surrounded the Big Bang.

  7. But the Big Bang is a vacuum detonation. Hypersonic plasma is cool, but it’s like comparing elephants to watermelons. If they generated a thermal plasma by vacuum perturbation, that would be astounding. That’s a Big Bang in a Bottle. This is fuel efficiency. Not as cool as a Big Bang, while still remaining cool.

  8. Lacking actual observance of a phenomenon like the “big bang,” all is unsupportable conjecture. We are given to understand that the expansion occurring immediately after the instant of creation proceeded at a speed faster than the speed of light. A Mach 5 hypersonic supernova explosion is so much slower than the universe’s expansion rate that the comparison is ludicrous.

  9. The study that this article has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the big bang!

    It’s like the writer either didn’t read the study or didn’t care enough about the reading audience to legitimately discuss the findings!

  10. C. Nevell Slater | November 3, 2019 at 1:24 am | Reply

    One law of thermodynamics states “energy cannot be created”, so where did the energy for the Big Bang come from? To me that is a much more interesting question than how it may have looked in that initial period of expansion. If physicists cannot account for where the energy came from then that represents the biggest gap in physics.

  11. I AM WRITING ABOUT big bang and cosmology in my site http://engineering-and-science.com too

  12. Since matter cannot create itself then everything that is in existence now had to be there in the very beginning. Where did it come from?

    • Tracy, a good and obvious question to which I have not read a cogent answer. I find it hard enough to imagine a boundless void in which this ‘creation event’ occurred though I would be more happy to take on board a universe that eventually stopped expanding, contracts into a black hole then self-destructs to recreate a new universe, repeated forever; no loss of energy\matter.

  13. You can’t say that, because the big bang is still an assumption.
    We still don’t know, or are inadequately able to prove the origin of the universe.
    It’s an assumption that the universe came into being, it may not have.
    It may have always been there, witch make any idea of a beginning or a creator, obsolete and irrelevant.
    You may laugh but this is already a unified explanation, the problem is it puts you guys out of business.
    How is this different from the theologians everlastingly trying to impress upon us the proofs of our existence, weather it’s cosmological ontological teleological, there no end to this, that’s why 2 thousand years we are still asking the same questions. Because these aren’t really answers, there is a market for this kind of thing, and then he calls me a cynic.

  14. Joseph Laielli | November 3, 2019 at 6:39 am | Reply

    “Mixing the right amount of turbulence” Seems to me the “right amount” of a lot of things was required for the genesis of such complexity. Pure conjecture. Evolutionists will never be able to discover from where the pre big bang material came. “The heavens declare the glory of God”

  15. FALSE: “University of Central Florida researchers discover mechanisms for the cause of the Big Bang.”

    FALSE: “The origin of the universe started with the Big Bang, but how the supernova explosion ignited has long been a mystery — until now.”

    FALSE: “In a new paper appearing today (November 1, 2019) in Science Magazine, researchers detailed the mechanisms that could cause the explosion,”

    FALSE: “which is key for the models that scientists use to understand the origin of the universe.”

    FALSE: “The researcher uncovered the criteria for creating a Big Bang-type explosion….” [The Big Bang wasn’t an explosion.]

    This article is 80% bullcrap, and 10% hyperbole – giving us only 10% real news. Oh, I see, whoever authored this news piece is trying to emulate contemporary “reporters” and “journalists” at CNN and the New York Times these days who fabricate fake news and hyperventilate most of the rest.

  16. Turbulence in a singularity? From what? How about an article about science, not word count?

  17. John Rupert Buckley | November 6, 2019 at 12:27 pm | Reply

    Wait. Stop.

    There was nothing there to start with. Void. No particles. No gasses. Nothing.

    One can’t assume that there were ‘gasses’ waiting to be ignited!!

    I’m still trying to get at who/what was the igniter? I say again.

    What is the igniter of an incomprehensible void?

    Better to try and explain what an incomprehensible void might be.

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