Quantcast

Tuesday, July 22, 2014         

 Print   Email   Comment | View 4 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

Evidence spotted for universe's early growth spurt

By Associated Press

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:09 p.m. HST, Mar 17, 2014


NEW YORK >> Researchers say they have spotted evidence that a split-second after the Big Bang, the newly formed universe ballooned out at a pace so astonishing that it left behind ripples in the fabric of the cosmos.

If confirmed, experts said, the discovery would be a major advance in the understanding of the early universe. Although many scientists already believed that an initial, extremely rapid growth spurt happened, they have long sought the type of evidence cited in the new study.

The results reported Monday emerged after researchers peered into the faint light that remains from the Big Bang of nearly 14 billion years ago.

The discovery "gives us a window on the universe at the very beginning," when it was far less than one-trillionth of a second old, said theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss of Arizona State University, who was not involved in the work.

"It's just amazing," Krauss said. "You can see back to the beginning of time."

Marc Kamionkowski, a theoretical physicist at Johns Hopkins University who did not participate in the research, said the finding is "not just a home run. It's a grand slam."

He and other experts said the results must be confirmed by other observations, a standard caveat in science.

Right after the Big Bang, the universe was a hot soup of particles. It took about 380,000 years to cool enough that the particles could form atoms, then stars and galaxies. Billions of years later, planets formed from gas and dust that were orbiting stars. The universe has continued to spread out.

Krauss said he thinks the new results could rank among the greatest breakthroughs in astrophysics over the last 25 years, such as the Nobel prize-winning discovery that the universe's expansion is accelerating.

Monday's findings were announced by a collaboration that included researchers from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the University of Minnesota, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The team plans to submit its conclusions to a scientific journal this week, said its leader, John Kovac of Harvard.

Astronomers scanned about 2 percent of the sky for three years with a telescope at the South Pole, where the air is exceptionally dry.

They were looking for a specific pattern in light waves within the faint microwave glow left over from the Big Bang. The pattern has long been considered evidence of rapid growth, known as inflation. Kovac called it "the smoking-gun signature of inflation."

The reported detection suggests that "inflation has sent us a telegram," Kamionkowski said.

The researchers say the light-wave pattern was caused by gravitational waves, which are ripples in space and time. If verified, the new work would be the first detection of such waves from the birth of the universe, which have been called the first tremors of the Big Bang.

Krauss cautioned that the light-wave pattern might not be a sign of inflation, although he stressed that it's "extremely likely" that it is. The pattern is "our best hope" for a direct test of whether the rapid growth spurt happened, he said.

Alan Guth of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a creator of the idea of inflation, said the findings already suggest that some ideas about the rapid expansion of the universe can be ruled out.

It had not been clear whether the light-wave pattern would be detectable even if inflation really happened, he said, but luckily "nature is cooperating with us, laying out its cards in a way that we can see them."







 Print   Email   Comment | View 4 Comments   Most Popular   Save   Post   Retweet

COMMENTS
(4)
You must be subscribed to participate in discussions
By participating in online discussions you acknowledge that you have agreed to the TERMS OF SERVICE. An insightful discussion of ideas and viewpoints is encouraged, but comments must be civil and in good taste, with no personal attacks. Because only subscribers are allowed to comment, we have your personal information and are able to contact you. If your comments are inappropriate, you may receive a warning, and if you persist with such comments you may be banned from posting. To report comments that you believe do not follow our guidelines, email commentfeedback@staradvertiser.com.
Leave a comment

Please login to leave a comment.
hawaiiwalter wrote:
Didn't the Catholic Church say our universe was created in six days two thousand years ago? Don't tell me that the bible is full of bull****.
on March 17,2014 | 01:38PM
GONEGOLFIN wrote:
Actually, I think the bible references a time period as a day. Not sure what the length of time but as example. A second could represent a year, an hour represent an eon, a day represent a century, a century represent...... Nobody really knows what is meant, but many theorists believe it is meant as a representation very much like we break down the periods of our own time such as the jurasic period to now. Key note, dont take the Bible too much in the literal sense.
on March 17,2014 | 04:50PM
seaborn wrote:
With all the peering into the universe, how come there have been no reported sightings of planets owned by deceased Mormons and the people they invite to live with them, or any planets with deceased muslims and their 72 virgins? Just wondering, because I'm starting to believe neither could be true.
on March 17,2014 | 02:01PM
inHilo wrote:
It really does sound more and more like the result of a big bang, maybe even love at first sight.
on March 17,2014 | 02:57PM
IN OTHER NEWS
Breaking News
Blogs
Political Radar
VoteVets

Political Radar
Values

Island Crafters
Christmas in July

Political Radar
IBEW endorsement

Warrior Beat
Travel day

Small Talk
Counting coins

Court Sense
Old PGs go to work