Scientists Say They’ve Discovered Echoes Of The Big Bang

The detection of gravitational waves reaffirms the theory of cosmic inflation, where the universe expanded exponentially within the first fraction of a second of the Big Bang almost 14 billion years ago.

Scientists Say They’ve Discovered Echoes Of The Big Bang
[Image: Flickr user { pranav }]

Scientists have discovered gravitational waves that reaffirm the theory of cosmic inflation, which suggests that the universe rapidly expanded within the first fraction of a second of the Big Bang, almost 14 billion years ago.

“Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today,” said John Kovac at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in a statement. Kovac led the team that detected this pattern.

The theory of inflation was first proposed in 1979 by MIT physicist Alan Guth, who describes this hyper-expansion as the “bang” of the Big Bang. Observations through a Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 telescope based at the South Pole detected a faint glow left from the Big Bang as well as tiny fluctuations. The detection of B-modes, or a twisting in the polarized orientation of ancient light, serves as the first direct evidence for inflation, as they can only be created by ripples caused by inflation.

“The swirly B-mode pattern is a unique signature of gravitational waves because of their handedness. This is the first direct image of gravitational waves across the primordial sky,” said Stanford’s Chao-Lin Kuo, who designed the telescope detector.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.

More

Video

More Stories