Gravitational Wave Discovery! Evidence of Cosmic Inflation
Join Derek from Veritasium and take a look at the universe’s adorable baby photos! Aww, who’s a cute widdle universe? YOU ARE! You’re growin up sooooo fast with your inflation, yes you are!!
Smoooshybooshybooboo look how homogenous that made your cosmic background radiation! And those cute little gravity wave lumps, d’awwww, I hope you never lose those.
(I’m baby talking the Big Bang. I think I should get some fresh air.)
Noise, in analog video and television, is a random dot pattern of static displayed when no transmission signal is obtained by the antenna receiver of television set and other display devices. The random pattern superimposed on the picture, visible as a random flicker of “dots” or “snow”, is the result of electronic noise and radiated electromagnetic noise accidentally picked up by the antenna. This effect is most commonly seen with analog TV sets or blank VHS tapes.
There are many sources of electromagnetic noise which cause the characteristic display patterns of static. Atmospheric sources of noise are the most ubiquitous, and include electromagnetic signals prompted by cosmic microwave background radiation, or more localized radio wave noise from nearby electronic devices.
Microwaves are a low-energy form of radiation but higher in energy than radio waves. The cosmic microwave background blankets the universe and is responsible for a sizeable amount of static on your television set—well, before the days of cable. Turn your television to an “in between” channel, and part of the static you’ll see is the afterglow of the big bang.
How much longer until this story about static and the Big Bang makes no sense? Because I don’t know about your television, but mine hasn’t seen static in years.
What will we teach our kids then? First the dial tone, then the static of the cosmic microwave background … is nothing sacred, science?!
Space Sounds - Sounds of the Big Bang
It’s time for another Episode Extra! (which is where you special blog readers get to check out really cool stuff to go along with my YouTube videos, like special features on a DVD, only way more special-er)
I’ve got another extra feature to go along with my latest Space Sounds video! I’m full of ‘em this week.
The very first radiation to escape after the Big Bang has been traveling outward for 13.8 billion years. This cosmic microwave background has been literally stretched over time, it’s frequency and temperature lowering as the universe, and everything in it, expands.
John G. Cramer from the University of Washington took the measurement data of the cosmic microwave background from ESA’s Planck space telescope and converted the energy frequencies of the first 760,000 years of the universe into audible sound. He had to multiply each frequency by 10^26 so we could hear it!
So what IS the Cosmic Microwave Background, anyway?
A few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, things cooled down enough (to about 2,700 ˚C) that neutral matter like hydrogen and helium began to condense from a sea of charged protons and electrons. This released photons that have been propagating through space since that very moment.
Of course, we know that the universe is expanding, right? Those photons are expanding along with it. We are detecting them at a distance in light years almost equal to the age of the universe itself, as they have been stretched and cooled to just above absolute zero (a few degrees Kelvin).
Why “microwave”? The photon wavelengths have expanded so much during the expansion of the universe that they now sit in the microwave range, like extending a Slinky into a single, straight wire!
Check out this cool feature from Space.com to find out even more about the CMB, including how pigeon poop helped us figure out it even existed.
Planck-in’ on Billions and Billions
I’m amazed that in 2013, we can still be smacked upside the head and reminded of how little we know about our universe. Even the most basic things about it. Like, how old it is.
The European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope has collected 15.5 months worth of data on the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB (What’s that? Click here), and today they released the most detailed map ever of those oldest remnants of the Big Bang. It says that our universe is almost perfect. Almost.
The highlights from this new map include the finding that the universe is almost certainly 13.81 billion years old, about 100 million years older than previous estimates. And we got better estimates for the stuffness of stuff: 4.9 percent normal matter, 26.8 percent dark matter, and 68.3 percent dark energy. The universe is expanding, which is the whole reason that the CMB even exists, but this new map says it’s expanding slower than we thought.
The coolest part, though? The “almost perfect” part. The radiation that became the CMB was just sort of randomly splattered out, like we’d expect (and the randomness of the dots on the map above show that). But those little fluctuations aren’t the same everywhere! The universe appears to be slightly lopsided, and even rather cold in one part. The ESA folks say we may need “new physics” to explain why. Nice to know you cosmologists of the future will have something to work on :)
Of course, all of this just goes for the observable universe. The rest, whatever it may be (or not be), has NO EDGE. Just like Hank Green reminds us. Phil Plait has tons more dirty details behind the Planck news at Bad Astronomy.