Cosmology (from the Greek κόσμος, kosmos "world" and -λογία, -logia "study of") is the study of the origin, evolution, and eventual fate of the universe. Physical cosmology is the scholarly and scientific study of the origin, large-scale structures and dynamics, and ultimate fate of the universe, as well as the scientific laws that govern these realities.
The term cosmology was first used in English in 1656 in Thomas Blount's Glossographia, and in 1731 taken up in Latin by German philosopher Christian Wolff, in Cosmologia Generalis.
Cosmology differs from astronomy in that the former is concerned with the Universe as a whole while the latter deals with individual celestial objects. Modern physical cosmology is dominated by the Big Bang theory, which attempts to bring together observational astronomy and particle physics.
Physics and astrophysics have played a central role in shaping the understanding of the universe through scientific observation and experiment. Physical cosmology was shaped through both mathematics and observation in an analysis of the whole universe. The universe is generally understood to have begun with the Big Bang, followed almost instantaneously by cosmic inflation; an expansion of space from which the universe is thought to have emerged 13.799 ± 0.021 billion years ago. Cosmogony studies the origin of the Universe, and cosmography maps the features of the Universe.
In Diderot's Encyclopédie, cosmology is broken down into uranology (the science of the heavens), aerology (the science of the air), geology (the science of the continents), and hydrology (the science of waters).
Metaphysical cosmology has also been described as the placing of man in the universe in relationship to all other entities. This is exemplified by Marcus Aurelius's observation that a man's place in that relationship: "He who does not know what the world is does not know where he is, and he who does not know for what purpose the world exists, does not know who he is, nor what the world is."
Physical cosmology is the branch of physics and astrophysics that deals with the study of the physical origins and evolution of the Universe. It also includes the study of the nature of the Universe on a large scale. In its earliest form, it was what is now known as "celestial mechanics", the study of the heavens.
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The Hubble eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) was completed in September 2012 and shows the farthest galaxies ever photographed. Except for the few stars in the foreground (which are bright and easily recognizable because only they have diffraction spikes), every speck of light in the photo is an individual galaxy, some of them as old as 13.2 billion years; the observable universe is estimated to have contained more than 2 trillion galaxies.
Cosmology Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.