Scientists in America have discovered new evidence of cosmic inflation – the force that is responsible for the Big Bang. The ripples were detected by the telescope, BICEP2, set up at the South Pole. After years of research starting in 2001, the BICEP2 team discovered the signal which they call B-mode polarization – the light from the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) that saturated the universe about 380,000 years after the Big Bang.
Cosmic inflation, which occurred billions of years ago, is the theory that the universe expanded at many times the speed of light just after the Big Bang in a fraction of a second, rather just expanding rapidly. Though the idea of cosmic inflation was first put forward in the 1980s, there was just not enough evidence. The BICEP2 team’s milestone discovery of the faint spiral patterns that were left in the sky following the Big Bang is giving scientists an idea of the process that took place when the universe was born 13.8 billion years ago. This is the first evidence of the key moment in the birth of the universe, when it turned from a speck into a mass of energy and particles – the galaxies, the stars, the planets.
The discovery of this residual marker for inflation is one of the most important goals in cosmology today, said BICEP2 team leader Professor John Kovac from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Researchers from Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), and the University of Minnesota were also part of the team. Though they claim they have carefully checked their data over the last three years to rule out inconsistencies, the team expects its research to be subjected to intense scrutiny.