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date: 23 May 2019

Abstract and Keywords

The origin and evolution of the universe constitutes one of the most fascinating and challenging questions in the scientific investigation of nature. The general theory of relativity has made it possible to properly address this question. Einstein transformed cosmology when he formulated, in 1917, a relativistic model that could describe the universe in its entirety. The incorporation of the observational evidence of extragalactic recession into relativistic world models culminated in 1930 with the recognition of the expanding universe, which was a breakthrough in the scientific understanding of the universe as a whole. This chapter traces the history of the early phase of modern cosmology, from the formulation of the first cosmological models based on general relativity to the acceptance of the expanding universe and the early systematization of relativistic cosmology as a new scientific discipline.

Keywords: relativistic cosmology, Albert Einstein, Willem de Sitter, Arthur Eddington, cosmological constant, expanding universe, Friedman-Lemaître models, Robertson-Walker metric.

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