The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological
Physical cosmology, as a branch of astronomy, is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its formation and evolution. For most of human history, it was a branch of metaphysics and religion...
A scientific theory comprises a collection of concepts, including abstractions of observable phenomena expressed as quantifiable properties, together with rules that express relationships between observations of such concepts...
that explains the early development of the Universe
The Universe is commonly defined as the totality of everything that exists, including all matter and energy, the planets, stars, galaxies, and the contents of intergalactic space. Definitions and usage vary and similar terms include the cosmos, the world and nature...
. According to the Big Bang theory, the Universe was once in an extremely hot and dense state which expanded
Metric expansion of space
The metric expansion of space is the increase of distance between distant parts of the universe with time. It is an intrinsic expansion—that is, it is defined by the relative separation of parts of the universe and not by motion "outward" into preexisting space...
rapidly. This rapid expansion caused the young Universe to cool and resulted in its present continuously expanding state. According to the most recent measurements and observations
Observational cosmology is the study of the structure, the evolution and the origin of the universe through observation, using instruments such as telescopes and cosmic ray detectors.-Early observations:...
, this original state existed approximately 13.7 billion years ago, which is considered the age of the Universe
Age of the universe
The age of the universe is the time elapsed since the Big Bang posited by the most widely accepted scientific model of cosmology. The best current estimate of the age of the universe is 13.75 ± 0.13 billion years within the Lambda-CDM concordance model...
and the time the Big Bang occurred.