Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Towards a better understanding of the very early universe

04.03.2004


Using a British radio telescope called the Very Small Array (VSA), located on the flanks of Mount Teide in Tenerife, astronomers from the Universities of Manchester and Cambridge and the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) have made measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) - radiation left over from the Big Bang - which shed new light on events in the first minute fraction of the Universe’s existence.



By combining their results with those of NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite, they have been able to constrain the behaviour of the Universe during the ’inflationary’ phase believed to have taken place when it was only 10(-35) seconds old. If confirmed, these results will significantly challenge our current views of inflation and the first moments of creation.

Dr. Richard Davis of Jodrell Bank Observatory, University of Manchester, who was involved in the design and building of the VSA and leads the Jodrell Bank team, said, "From the holiday island of Tenerife we have probed the first moment of creation, when the Universe was a million-million-millionth of the size of the atom. Using this British-funded instrument, we see echoes of the crazy expansion which took place in the early Universe; it is quite incredible!"


The idea of inflation is that the Universe expanded extremely quickly during its very early existence, creating a Universe whose properties are very uniform on the largest scales. However Quantum Mechanics, the theory of the sub-atomic world, would have created minute fluctuations in the density of the early Universe which eventually led to the formation of galaxies such as our own Milky Way. These fluctuations also imprinted minute temperature variations on the observed CMB, so allowing them to be studied by extremely sensitive instruments such as the VSA.

The Quantum Mechanical fluctuations produced variations in density and temperature over a very wide range of scale sizes. The finer detail of the VSA observations, as compared with those of WMAP, has enabled a better understanding of how the distribution of these fluctuations varies as a function of size.

Previous ideas had suggested that, once the subsequent history of the Universe is accounted for, the distribution of fluctuations would be independent of scale. However, the current results show that the fluctuations are most apparent at an angular scale of about 1/2 degree, the size of the Moon in the night sky. On both larger (the size of the Universe) and smaller (the size of a cluster of galaxies) scales, these variations in density and temperature are much less.

"The most popular inflation models predict much smaller variations than those seen in the new observations,” said Dr. Richard Battye (Jodrell Bank Observatory), who was involved in the analysis and interpretation of the data. “The increasing sensitivity of instruments such as the VSA is enabling us to test these inflation models. The results are not totally conclusive at this stage, but if true they will require a complete re-think of the prevailing view of the first moments of creation.”

The results from the VSA have been confirmed by a concurrent experiment, the Cosmic Background Imager (CBI), which is located high in the Chilean Andes and operated by the California Institute of Technology. The results at this stage are highly suggestive, but it is hoped that further measurements by the VSA, CBI and eventually the PLANCK satellite, will allow more definitive conclusions to be drawn. PLANCK, which is due to be launched by the European Space Agency in 2007, will employ highly sensitive receivers built by engineers at the Jodrell Bank Observatory.

Dr. Richard Battye | alfa
Further information:
http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/news/vsa2/

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Further Improvement of Qubit Lifetime for Quantum Computers
09.12.2016 | Forschungszentrum Jülich

nachricht Electron highway inside crystal
09.12.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

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: Electron highway inside crystal

Physicists of the University of Würzburg have made an astonishing discovery in a specific type of topological insulators. The effect is due to the structure of the materials used. The researchers have now published their work in the journal Science.

Topological insulators are currently the hot topic in physics according to the newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. Only a few weeks ago, their importance was...

Im Focus: Significantly more productivity in USP lasers

In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.

Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...

Im Focus: Shape matters when light meets atom

Mapping the interaction of a single atom with a single photon may inform design of quantum devices

Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...

Im Focus: Novel silicon etching technique crafts 3-D gradient refractive index micro-optics

A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.

Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...

Im Focus: Quantum Particles Form Droplets

In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.

“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

ICTM Conference 2017: Production technology for turbomachine manufacturing of the future

16.11.2016 | Event News

Innovation Day Laser Technology – Laser Additive Manufacturing

01.11.2016 | Event News

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

14.10.2016 | Event News

 
Latest News

Researchers identify potentially druggable mutant p53 proteins that promote cancer growth

09.12.2016 | Life Sciences

Scientists produce a new roadmap for guiding development & conservation in the Amazon

09.12.2016 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Satellites, airport visibility readings shed light on troops' exposure to air pollution

09.12.2016 | Health and Medicine

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>