First direct evidence of cosmic inflation

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“The BICEP2 collaboration’s data represent the first images of gravitational waves and reach one of the most important goals in cosmology today.”

Read more in Astronomy Magazine | article provided be  Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Cambridge, Massachusetts :

BICEP2 B-mode signal

Gravitational waves from inflation generate a faint but distinctive twisting pattern in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB), known as a “curl” or B-mode pattern. For the density fluctuations that generate most of the polarization of the CMB, this part of the primordial pattern is exactly zero. Shown here is the actual B-mode pattern observed with the BICEP2 telescope, with the line segments showing the polarization from different spots on the sky. The red and blue shading shows the degree of clockwise and anti-clockwise twisting of this B-mode pattern.
                                                                                                                                     – BICEP2 Collaboration

Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of our best telescopes. All this, of course, was just theory. Researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration today announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the “first tremors of the Big Bang.” Finally, the data confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity. “Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today. A lot of work by a lot of people has led up to this point,” said John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, leader of the BICEP2 collaboration.


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