Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Researchers find clue to start of universe


Photo / Alan Rogers, Haystack Observatory - Close-up view of the crossed dipole elements of the array used to detect deuterium at radio wavelengths at MIT’s Haystack Observatory in Westford

If you want to hear a little bit of the Big Bang, you’re going to have to turn down your stereo.

That’s what neighbors of MIT’s Haystack Observatory found out. They were asked to make a little accommodation for science, and now the results are in: Scientists at Haystack have made the first radio detection of deuterium, an atom that is key to understanding the beginning of the universe. The findings are being reported in an article in the Sept. 1 issue of Astrophysical Journal Letters.

The team of scientists and engineers, led by Alan E.E. Rogers, made the detection using a radio telescope array designed and built at the MIT research facility in Westford, Mass. Rogers is currently a senior research scientist and associate director of the Haystack Observatory.

After gathering data for almost one year, a solid detection was obtained on May 30.

The detection of deuterium is of interest because the amount of deuterium can be related to the amount of dark matter in the universe, but accurate measurements have been elusive. Because of the way deuterium was created in the Big Bang, an accurate measurement of deuterium would allow scientists to set constraints on models of the Big Bang.

Also, an accurate measurement of deuterium would be an indicator of the density of cosmic baryons, and that density of baryons would indicate whether ordinary matter is dark and found in regions such as black holes, gas clouds or brown dwarfs, or is luminous and can be found in stars. This information helps scientists who are trying to understand the very beginning of our universe.

Until now the deuterium atom has been extremely difficult to detect with instruments on Earth. Emission from the deuterium atom is weak since it is not very abundant in space-there is approximately one deuterium atom for every 100,000 hydrogen atoms, thus the distribution of the deuterium atom is diffuse. Also, at optical wavelengths the hydrogen line is very close to the deuterium line, which makes it subject to confusion with hydrogen; but at radio wavelengths, deuterium is well separated from hydrogen and measurements can provide more consistent results.

In addition, our modern lifestyle, filled with gadgets that use radio waves, presented quite a challenge to the team trying to detect the weak deuterium radio signal. Radio frequency interference bombarded the site from cell phones, power lines, pagers, fluorescent lights, TV, and in one case from a telephone equipment cabinet where the doors had been left off. To locate the interference, a circle of yagi antennas was used to indicate the direction of spurious signals, and a systematic search for the RFI sources began.

At times, Rogers asked for help from Haystack’s neighbors, and in several instances replaced a certain brand of answering machine that was sending out a radio signal with one that did not interfere with the experiment. The interference caused by one person’s stereo system was solved by having a part on the sound card replaced by the factory.

The other members of the team working with Rogers are Kevin Dudevoir, Joe Carter, Brian Fanous and Eric Kratzenberg (all of Haystack Observatory) and Tom Bania of Boston University.

The Deuterium Array at Haystack is a soccer-field size installation conceived and built at the Haystack facility with support from the National Science Foundation, MIT and TruePosition Inc.

Madeleine Needles | EurekAlert!
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht 'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region
16.03.2018 | American Institute of Physics

nachricht Fraunhofer HHI have developed a novel single-polarization Kramers-Kronig receiver scheme
16.03.2018 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Nachrichtentechnik, Heinrich-Hertz-Institut, HHI

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: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Wandering greenhouse gas

16.03.2018 | Earth Sciences

'Frequency combs' ID chemicals within the mid-infrared spectral region

16.03.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

Biologists unravel another mystery of what makes DNA go 'loopy'

16.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>