Scientists have found evidence that instants after the Big Bang, the universe expanded in a staggering burst that created ripples in space-time.
A group of researchers including CIFAR Senior Fellows Barth Netterfield and Mark Halpern co-authored papers released this week from the BICEP2 experiment, a South Pole study of the oldest light in the universe, called the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The experiment appears to have detected gravitational waves which were caused — according to the theory of inflation — by the universe’s rapid growth a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after it was born.
If the data is verified, astronomers say this evidence could resolve one of the deepest questions about the origins of the universe: what happened immediately after the Big Bang. If correct, the evidence would also disprove several other theories, charting a new course for the future of cosmological research.
Harvard University, which runs the BICEP2 experiment, announced the new results in a press conference on Monday.