There's more to the beginning of the universe than a loud noise

8) Behind the Scenes

As with most good pieces of stagecraft, the smooth running of this part of the story has been made possible due to something that has been doing the heavy lifting in the background. That something is known as Dark Matter. The name may sound sinister, but in actual fact it is has been a great help in bringing about the reality we know and love, as it brought about the formation of important phenomena in the early universe. It is only called ‘dark’ because we can’t see it, because it doesn’t interact with photons. As a result, we don’t really understand much about Dark Matter yet (even though, ahem, it is said to make up about 84% of the mass of the universe), but we are guessing it is a benevolent stranger.

Dark Matter has probably been around from the very beginning, and its own structure has evolved from a homogeneous clump into a universal web, with a network of filaments and nodes that have the ability to collect and compress ordinary matter. This is because there is something Dark Matter does interact with – Gravity.

The very first atoms formed were attracted towards the nodes in the Dark Matter web. Vast quantities of Hydrogen and Helium (that’s pretty much all there was at this point) fell inwards, into the blueprint of bones for the skeleton. The pressure of gravity increased as the atoms bundled together into gigantic clouds, and they became denser, and hotter, until the forces acting upon them made them start to swirl.

Next: The Inflation