Scientists have found the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation in gravitational waves from the Big Bang detected in the cosmic microwave background radiation of our universe.
The major announcement came from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Here's the technical data and papers that go along with the announcement from the group at the Bicep (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) project.
Researchers will be giving a press conference, streamed live starting at 11:55 a.m. EDT at this link ;and this back up link, though neither are working for us right now. From twitter, it's looking like they've started the press conference early, though we can't confirm that.
As the rumors have been saying, the discovery has to do with finding of evidence of primordial gravitational waves, ripples in the fabric of spacetime that were produced in the early universe. The imprint they left when the universe was born 13.82 billion years ago would give us an idea of what the universe was like when it just came into existence.
Astronomers are announcing today that they have acquired the first direct evidence that gravitational waves rippled through our infant universe during an explosive period of growth called inflation. This is the strongest confirmation yet of cosmic inflation theories, which say the universe expanded by 100 trillion trillion times, in less than the blink of an eye.
Here's the kind of data they are working with, this image of the cosmic microwave background radiation from Plank:According to The Guardian: "The signal is rumored to have been found by a specialized telescope called Bicep (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) at the south pole."
Gravitational waves were the last untested prediction of Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The BICEP researchers were analyzing data from the early universe to find the signals of these waves. According to cosmologists on twitter, the result was significant.
"It's been called the Holy Grail of cosmology," Hiranya Peiris, a cosmologist from University College London, told The Guardian. "It would be a real major, major, major discovery."
There are still reasons not to get ahead of ourselves. This new data will need to be scrutinized by other scientists and confirmed by other experiments.
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