Do you know the mysteries of the cosmos? Take the quiz!


What is dark matter? Where can we find the elusive "Goldilocks" planet? Take this quiz to see how much of the cosmos you still need to explore.

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Question 1 of 20

What happened during the Big Bang?

A giant mega-planet exploded, splitting into millions of stars.
Matter and energy suddenly disappeared.
The universe suddenly expanded from a tiny, dense point to massive proportions.

... When the Big Bang occurred, the universe underwent a massive and sudden expansion.


Question 2 of 20

What occurs during the 62-million-year cycle of mass extinction?

All species on Earth die.
About 25 to 50 percent of species die.
About 50 to 95 percent of species die.

... During mass extinction, 50 to 95 percent of Earth's species die.


Question 3 of 20

What is one possible effect of asteroid impacts, massive volcanic eruptions and gamma rays?

higher temperatures worldwide
lower temperatures worldwide

... All could lead to decreased global temperatures.


Question 4 of 20

Which is NOT a common explanation for the presence of dark matter?

brown dwarfs
black holes
baryonic particles

... Hypotheses for the nature of dark matter include brown dwarfs, massive black holes and an unknown type of matter.


Question 5 of 20

In the last 7 billion years, what has likely happened to the massive galaxy cluster found by researchers using the South Pole telescope?

It has doubled in size.
It has quadrupled in size.
It has decreased in size.

... The galaxy cluster is probably four times the size it was 7 billion years ago.


Question 6 of 20

Why might a "Goldilocks" planet be able to sustain life?

It may have water vapor.
It may have liquid water.
It may have ice.

... A "Goldilocks" planet, which gets its name from the fact that it is niether too hot nor too cold, may have liquid water on its surface. Liquid water is considered necessary to sustain life.


Question 7 of 20

What was the nature of the Pioneer spacecraft anomaly?

The probes veered greatly off-course.
The probes disappeared.
The probes traveled slower than expected.

... Over time, the Pioneer space probes began traveling away from the sun at slightly slower speeds than anticipated.


Question 8 of 20

Which statement describes how quantum physics might explain the Big Bang?

Microwave fluctuations caused the Big Bang.
Time is another dimension of space.
It just happened.

... Quantum physics does not rely on cause-and-effect; therefore, the Big Bang may have simply happened without an apparent cause.


Question 9 of 20

Why did Fred Hoyle refer to one theory of the creation of the universe as the "Big Bang"?

He thought it was better than the steady-state theory.
He thought it was silly.
He did not use that term.

... Hoyle was mocking the theory, which he considered scientifically weak. The term eventually became the accepted name of the model.


Question 10 of 20

In 2008, what did scientists discover in lunar volcanic glass?

igneous rock

... Researchers from Brown University found water in samples of lunar volcanic glass.


Question 11 of 20

Which space agency did NOT sponsor the Cassini spacecraft?

Russian Federal Space Agency
European Space Agency

... The Cassini project was assembled by NASA, the European Space Agency and the Italian Space Agency.


Question 12 of 20

What is formed when stars develop at different rates?

a spiral galaxy
an elliptical galaxy
a supernova

... A spiral galaxy is formed when stars develop at different times, causing them to spread in a spiral pattern.


Question 13 of 20

What did Dr. Jerry Ehman write on a computer printout from SETI receivers, expressing his surprise at seeing a potential signal from extraterrestrials?

"No way!"

... Dr. Ehman wrote "Wow!" as his immediate reaction to a surprising readout. The reading became known as the "Wow!" signal.


Question 14 of 20

What is baryonic matter?

dark matter
dark energy
regular atoms

... The understood atoms of the universe are known as baryonic matter.


Question 15 of 20

What is the multiverse theory?

a theory of dark matter
a theory of multiple universes
the cause of black holes

... Multiverse theory suggests the possibility of multiple universes.


Question 16 of 20

What might cause Saturn's polar hexagon?

a very fast jet stream
a very slow jet stream
a hurricane

... Some scientists hypothesize that a jet stream moving much faster than the atmosphere can form a hexagon like the one seen on the surface of this gas planet.


Question 17 of 20

What is happening to the rate of expansion of the universe?

It's slowing down.
It's speeding up.
The universe has reached equilibrium and is no longer expanding.

... Contrary to what we would expect, the expansion of the universe is not slowing down over time. It's speeding up.


Question 18 of 20

What percentage of matter in the universe is known to us?

less than 5 percent
23 percent
72 percent

... Less than 5 percent of the matter in the universe is composed of atoms with which we are familiar.


Question 19 of 20

Why does SETI look for signals resonating at 1420 megahertz?

That's the resonance of oxygen.
That's the resonance of nitrogen.
That's the resonance of hydrogen.

... Hydrogen is the most common element in the universe, and it resonates at 1420 megahertz.


Question 20 of 20

Why did scientists want to discover the cause of the Pioneer anomaly?

It was such a large anomaly.
It was small, but should not have been there.
They thought it might have been caused by extraterrestrials.

... It was a small difference, but it should not have happened, given what we knew at the time about physics and the universe.


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