Magazine article Science News

Ultimate Retro: Modern Echoes of the Early Universe

Magazine article Science News

Ultimate Retro: Modern Echoes of the Early Universe

Article excerpt

Two teams of astronomers have for the first time detected the surviving notes of a cosmic symphony created just after the Big Bang, when the universe was a foggy soup of matter and radiation. The discoverers say that the survival of the acoustic imprint from this early epoch, 13.7 billion years ago, provides compelling new evidence that the blueprint for the present distribution of galaxies was set at the time of the Big Bang by random subatomic fluctuations.

In 1999, researchers detected a specific pattern of acoustic oscillations in the faint, ancient whisper of radiation--the cosmic microwave background--left over from the Big Bang. This week, Shaun Cole of the University of Durham in England and his colleagues announced that they had discerned remnants of that pattern while analyzing data from the Two-Degree Field Redshiff Gravity Survey, a large-scale analysis of 220,000 galaxies. The map covers one-twentieth the area of the sky out to a distance of 2 billion light-years from Earth.

Another team, led by Daniel Eisenstein of the University of Arizona in Tucson, examined a subset of 46,000 galaxies from another sky map, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, which covers one-quarter of the sky.

Each team used a different method of analysis but found the same acoustic pattern. The groups reported their findings this week at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in San Diego.

The signals are so weak that, to detect them even in large-galaxy surveys, "booth groups had to work quite hard," notes cosmologist David N. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.