(Credit: NASA; ESA; G. Illingworth, D. Magee, and P. Oesch, University of California, Santa Cruz; R. Bouwens, Leiden University; and the HUDF09 Team)

Cosmogony and Ginnungagap

3. Of old was the age | when Ymir lived;
Sea nor cool waves | nor sand there were;
Earth had not been, | nor heaven above,
But a yawning gap, | and grass nowhere.

4. Then Bur’s sons lifted | the level land,
Midgard the mighty | there they made;
The sun from the south | warmed the stones of earth,
And green was the ground | with growing leeks.

5. The sun, the sister | of the moon, from the south
Her right hand cast | over heaven’s rim;
No knowledge she had | where her home should be,
The moon knew not | what might was his,
The stars knew not | where their stations were.

Voluspa 3-5

The Norse creation myth is remarkably consistent with the birth of the universe: into a yawning gap, an empty void, came a new and vibrant world. As Snorri explains in Gylfaginning of the Prose Edda, the universe is the product of fire and ice:

“Ginnungagap, which faced toward the northern quarter, became filled with heaviness, and masses of ice and rime, and from within, drizzling rain and gusts; but the southern part of the Yawning Void was lighted by those sparks and glowing masses which flew out of Múspellheim.” And Thridi said: “Just as cold arose out of Niflheim, and all terrible things, so also all that looked toward Múspellheim became hot and glowing….”

The universe is then the product of natural forces, pushing and pulling against one another.

The featured image is from the dawn of the universe: the Hubble Ultra-Deep Field image shows a small region of space, which ordinarily appears black, observed from September 2003 to January 2004. This particular version of the image, the Extreme Deep Field (follow the link for a much higher resolution copy), shows a tiny subset of that tiny part of the sky. The subjects seen here are approximately 13 billion light-years distant, shown as they appeared just a few hundred million years after the Big Bang filled Ginnungagap with fresh material.

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