(Sample Material) IAS PRE GS Online Coaching : General Science - "Universe"

Sample Material of Our Online Coaching Programme

Subject: General Science
Topic: Universe


The universe is a huge wide-open space that holds everything from the smallest particle to the biggest galaxy. No one knows just how big the Universe is. Astronomers try to measure it all the time. They use a special instrument called a spectroscope to tell whether an object is moving away from Earth or toward Earth. Based on the information fromthis instrument, scientists have learned that the universe is still growing outward in every direction. Scientists believe that about 13.7 billion years ago, a powerful explosion called the Big Bang happened. This powerful explosion set the universe into motion and this motion continues today. Scientists are not yet sure if the motion will stop, change direction, or keep going forever.

Evolution Of Universe

The threemain theories put forward to explain the origin and evolution of the universe are:

  1. The Big Bang Theory
  2. The Steady State Theory
  3. The Pulsating Theory
  1. The Big Bang Theory: Le Maitre and Gammow proposed this theory. According to this theory, at the beginning of the universe, the whole matter of the universe was once concentrated in an extremely dense and hot (~10 12K) fireball. Then about 20 billion years ago a vast explosion (big bang) occurred. The matter was broken into pieces, which were thrown out with high speed in all directions forming stars and galaxies; which are still moving way from one another. According to Hubble’s law, the velocity of recession of a galaxy becomes equal to the velocity of light at a distance equal of 20 billing light years. It means, the light rays from stars and galaxies, which are situated at a distance of 20 billion light years or more, can never reach us. Thus this distance becomes the boundary of observable universe. On account of continuous recession, more and more galaxies will go beyond this boundary and they will be lost. As a result of this, the number of galaxies per unit volume will go on decreasing and ultimately a time may come when we may have empty universe

  2. Steady State Theory: Bondi, Gold and Fred Hoyle developed this theory. According to this theory, the number of galaxies in the observable universe is constant and new galaxies are continuously being created out of empty space, which fill up the gaps caused by those galaxies, which have crossed the boundary of the observable universe. As a result of it, the overall size of mass of the observable universe remains constant. Thus a steady state of the universe is not disturbed at all.

  3. Pulsating Theory: According to this theory, the universe is supposed to be expanding and contracting alternately i.e. pulsating. At present, the universe is expanding. According to pulsating theory, it is possible that at a certain time, the expansion of the universe may be stopped by the gravitational pull and they may contract again. After it has been contracted to a certain size, explosion again occurs and the universe will start expanding. The alternate expansion and contraction of the universe give rise to pulsating universe.


A galaxy contains stars, gas, and dust which are held together as a group by gravity. There may be millions, or even billions, of stars in one galaxy. There are billions of galaxies in the universe. Galaxies are labeled according to their shape. Some galaxies are called “spiral”, because they look like giant pinwheels in the sky. The galaxy we live in, the Milky Way, is a spiral galaxy. Some galaxies are called “elliptical”, because they look like flat balls. A galaxy may be called “irregular” if it doesn’t really have a shape. A new type of galaxy was discovered recently, called a “starburst” galaxy. In this type of galaxy, new stars just seem to ‘burst out’ very quickly.