PARIS – The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Planck space telescope said it has captured a view of the Universe’s first light.
Researchers claimed that the Planck telescope provided the most detailed map of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), demonstrating the existence of features that question the foundations of our understanding of the Universe.
The image shows a ‘child’ Universe, dating back to about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when its temperature was similar to that of the most external layer of a star today.
Cosmic microwave background observed by ESA's Planck telescopeClick on image to enlarge
Researchers explained that the young Universe was then filled with a hot dense soup of interacting protons, electrons and photons at about 2700ºC. When the protons and electrons joined to compose hydrogen atoms, the light was set free. As the Universe has expanded, the light has been stretched out to microwave wavelengths, equivalent to a temperature of just 2.7 degrees above absolute zero.
Scientists said they found that the fluctuations in the CMB temperatures at large angular scales do not conform to those projected by the standard model. Their signals are not as strong as expected from the smaller scale structure revealed by Planck.
"The observations carried out by Planck reveal with unprecedented exactness the imprint of the Big Bang on the fossil radiation. This the first time that man can look with such clearness at the origin of our Universe, in which we see the impact of forms of matter and energy still unknown today," commented Carlo Baccigalupi, a cosmologist at SISSA.
Baccigalupi added: "In order to comprehend Planck’s data we still have to focus on the most mysterious part of the signal, in which we may look for space-time oscillations of cosmological dimension, and such information that may help identify the physical processes that occurred at the time of the Big Bang. A lot of work for scientists for many years to come."
Launched in 2009 by ESA, Planck satellite examines the Big Bang through the cosmic background radiation. Planck carries on board two instruments to observe the sky at several frequencies: the LFI (Low Frequency Instrument), under Italy’s responsibility, which detects the radiation in the 30 to 70 GHz interval and the HFI (High Frequency Instrument), under France’s responsibility, which observes it in the 100 to 857 GHz interval.
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