Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Corrupted Echoes From the Big Bang?


Are Galaxy Clusters Corrupting the Echoes from the Big Bang?

In recent years, astronomers have obtained detailed measurements of the cosmic microwave background radiation – the ‘echo’ from the birth of the Universe during the Big Bang.

These results appear to indicate with remarkable precision that our Universe is dominated by mysterious ‘cold dark matter’ and ‘dark energy’. But now a group of UK astronomers has found evidence that the primordial microwave echoes may have been modified or ‘corrupted’ on their 13 billion year journey to the Earth.

The results from a team at the University of Durham, led by Professor Tom Shanks, are based on a new analysis of data from NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite.

The team has found that nearby galaxy clusters appear to lie in regions of sky where the microwave temperature is lower than average. This behaviour could be accounted for if the hot gas in the galaxy clusters has interacted with the Big Bang photons as they passed by and corrupted the information contained in this echo of the primordial fireball. Russian physicists R. A. Sunyaev and Ya. B. Zeldovich predicted such an effect in the early 1970’s, shortly after the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

This Sunyaev-Zeldovich effect has previously been seen in the cases of detailed observations of the microwave background in the vicinity of a few rich galaxy clusters and the WMAP team themselves have reported seeing the effect in their own data, close to cluster centres.

Now the Durham team has found evidence that hot gas in the clusters may influence the microwave background maps out to a radius of nearly 1 degree from the galaxy cluster centres, a much larger area than previously detected. This suggests that the positions of “clusters of clusters” or “superclusters” may also coincide with cooler spots in the pattern of microwave background fluctuations.

“The photons in the microwave background radiation are scattered by electrons in nearby clusters,” said Professor Shanks. “This causes important changes to the radiation by the time it reaches us.”

“If the galaxy clusters located several billion light years from Earth also have the same effect, then we must consider whether it is necessary to modify our interpretation of the satellite maps of the microwave background radiation.”

If the Durham result is confirmed, then the consequences for cosmology could be highly significant. The signature for dark energy and dark matter lies in the detailed structure of the ripples detected in the microwave background, tiny temperature variations that were created at a time when the radius of the Universe was a thousand times smaller than it is today.

If this primordial pattern has been corrupted by processes taking place in the recent past, long after galaxies and galaxy clusters formed, then it will, at best, complicate the interpretation of the microwave echo and, at worst, begin to undermine the previous evidence for both dark energy and cold dark matter.

“The power of this wonderful WMAP data is that it indicates that interpreting the microwave background ‘echo’ may be less straightforward than previously thought,” said team member
Sir Arnold Wolfendale (previously Astronomer Royal).

The WMAP team has already reported that their measurements of the Big Bang’s microwave echo may have been compromised by the process of galaxy formation at an intermediate stage in the Universe’s history. They presented evidence that gas heated by first-born stars, galaxies and quasars may have also corrupted the microwave signal when the Universe was 10 or 20 times smaller than at the present day. Thus both the WMAP and Durham results suggest that the microwave echo of the Big Bang may have had to come through many more obstacles on its journey to the Earth than had previously been thought, with consequent possible distortion of the primordial signal.

"Our results may ultimately undermine the belief that the Universe is dominated by an elusive cold dark matter particle and the even more enigmatic dark energy,” said Professor Shanks.

Although the observational evidence for the standard model of cosmology remains strong, the model does contain very uncomfortable aspects. These arise first because it is based on two pieces of “undiscovered physics” - cold dark matter and dark energy - neither of which has been detected in the laboratory. Indeed, the introduction of these two new components greatly increases the complication of the standard Big Bang inflationary model.

The problems of dark energy run particularly deep: for example, its observed density is so small that it may be quantum mechanically unstable. It also creates problems for the theories of quantum gravity, which suggest that we may live in a Universe with 10 or 11 dimensions, all of them shrunk, with the exceptions of three in space and one in time.

Many theorists would therefore like an escape route from today’s standard model of cosmology and it remains to be seen how far these observations discussed by the Durham group will go in this direction. But if correct, they suggest that the rumours that we are living in a “New Era of Precision Cosmology” may prove to be premature!

Prof. Tom Shanks | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Move over, lasers: Scientists can now create holograms from neutrons, too
21.10.2016 | National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST)

nachricht Finding the lightest superdeformed triaxial atomic nucleus
20.10.2016 | The Henryk Niewodniczanski Institute of Nuclear Physics Polish Academy of Sciences

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

Im Focus: New Products - Highlights of COMPAMED 2016

COMPAMED has become the leading international marketplace for suppliers of medical manufacturing. The trade fair, which takes place every November and is co-located to MEDICA in Dusseldorf, has been steadily growing over the past years and shows that medical technology remains a rapidly growing market.

In 2016, the joint pavilion by the IVAM Microtechnology Network, the Product Market “High-tech for Medical Devices”, will be located in Hall 8a again and will...

Im Focus: Ultra-thin ferroelectric material for next-generation electronics

'Ferroelectric' materials can switch between different states of electrical polarization in response to an external electric field. This flexibility means they show promise for many applications, for example in electronic devices and computer memory. Current ferroelectric materials are highly valued for their thermal and chemical stability and rapid electro-mechanical responses, but creating a material that is scalable down to the tiny sizes needed for technologies like silicon-based semiconductors (Si-based CMOS) has proven challenging.

Now, Hiroshi Funakubo and co-workers at the Tokyo Institute of Technology, in collaboration with researchers across Japan, have conducted experiments to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Resolving the mystery of preeclampsia

21.10.2016 | Health and Medicine

Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions

21.10.2016 | Information Technology

From ancient fossils to future cars

21.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>