Last year's Big Bang finding has Bitten the Dust

Last year's big bang development has at last bitten the dust. In March last year, scientists using a telescope called BICEP2 at the South Pole made a splash when they said to have found primordial gravitational waves, a signal from the very early cosmos.

Now particulars of a new study of their outcomes have leaked, and they appear to disclose that galactic dust is the possible cause of their observations.

The BICEP2 outcomes were at first hailed as one of the major findings of the century. The telescope searched for swirls in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the initial light discharged in the universe, approximately 380,000 years after the big bang. These waves were supposed to be caused by gravitational waves, waves in the very fabric of space-time, produced a tiny part of a second after the big bang.

If confirmed, the discovery would have proposed that the very early universe experienced a enormously fast expansion, known as inflation, and maybe even hinted at the presence of a multiverse. But study of this primordial signal is challenging, as swirls in the CMB could also be caused by galactic dust, and assurance had started to diminish by the official publication of the BICEP2 outcomes in June.

Another trial, the Planck satellite, has also collected data on the CMB, and scientists are due to publish their discoveries very soon. Additionally, the BICEP2 scientists have started taking data from a new telescope, the Keck Array. In September the two teams agreed to pool their unreleased data in the expectation of clearing up the BICEP2 misunderstanding.

Gossips earlier this week proposed their joint paper was due to be issued in the coming days, but a leaked press statement on a French official Planck site has already exposed the results. The page has since been taken down but was obtainable in Google's cache. "It's been exposed that the part played by the dust was expressively miscalculated," says the publication in French.

BICEP2's original statement based on a certain parameter, r, which calculates the size of a possible signal of primordial gravitational waves. The team initially measured r as between 0.16 and 0.20, but the mutual data study gives an r of less than 0.13. That doesn't mean the waves aren't there, but it's not sufficient to claim a finding.

Cosmologists took to twitter to express their dissatisfaction. "We're a bit bummed we don't get primordial gravitational waves to play with after all," said Katherine Mack of the University of Melbourne, Australia. "When the data retreat, theory moves boldly forward! Time to step up, early-universe theorists," said Sean Carroll of the California Institute of Technology.

Big Bang


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