Gravitational Waves from the Big Bang

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download_blue.jpgAstronomers have seen gravity waves in the Cosmic Microwave Background, which is strong evidence of Cosmic Inflation immediately after the Big Bang.

 

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BICEP2 telescope at the South Pole, courtesy US National Science Foundation
The detection of small ripples in the oldest light in the universe may be the strongest evidence yet for a critical part of the theory of the Big Bang. The theory of Inflation proposes that an instant after the universe came into being, nearly 14 billion years ago, it suddenly expanded by a trillion, trillion times in a tiny fraction of a second, creating the foundation for the structure of galaxies and stars we see today. Now, scientists using a telescope at the South Pole called BICEP2, which studies the Cosmic Microwave Background, (the oldest light in the universe,) have seen characteristic ripples caused by gravitational waves. These waves stretch and compress space itself, and are thought to have been created by the huge expansion of space during the period of cosmic Inflation.  Dr. John Kovac, an associate professor of astronomy at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, was Project Leader of the BICPEP2 program.


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This item appeared on Quirks & Quarks on March 22, 2014