First hundred thousand years of our universe: Researchers find tantalizing new hints of clues

Aug 07, 2013 by Lynn Yarris
This is the microwave sky as seen by Planck. Mottled structure of the CMB, the oldest light in the universe is displayed in the high-latitude regions of the map. The central band is the plane of our Galaxy. Credit: European Space Agency

Mystery fans know that the best way to solve a mystery is to revisit the scene where it began and look for clues. To understand the mysteries of our universe, scientists are trying to go back as far they can to the Big Bang. A new analysis of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation data by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has taken the furthest look back through time yet – 100 years to 300,000 years after the Big Bang - and provided tantalizing new hints of clues as to what might have happened.

"We found that the standard picture of an early universe, in which radiation domination was followed by matter domination, holds to the level we can test it with the new data, but there are hints that radiation didn't give way to matter exactly as expected," says Eric Linder, a with Berkeley Lab's Physics Division and member of the Supernova Cosmology Project. "There appears to be an excess dash of radiation that is not due to CMB photons."

Our knowledge of the Big Bang and the early formation of the universe stems almost entirely from measurements of the CMB, primordial photons set free when the universe cooled enough for particles of radiation and to separate. These measurements reveal the CMB's influence on the growth and development of the large-scale structure we see in the universe today.

Linder, working with Alireza Hojjati and Johan Samsing, who were then visiting scientists at Berkeley Lab, analyzed the latest satellite data from the European Space Agency's Planck mission and NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP), which pushed CMB measurements to higher resolution, lower noise, and more sky coverage than ever before.

"With the Planck and WMAP data we're really pushing back the frontier and looking further back in the history of the universe, to regions of high energy physics we previously could not access," Linder says. "While our analysis shows the CMB photon relic afterglow of the Big Bang being followed mainly by dark matter as expected, there was also a deviation from the standard that hints at relativistic particles beyond CMB light."

Linder says the prime suspects behind these relativistic particles are "wild" versions of neutrinos, the phantomlike subatomic particles that are the second most populous residents (after photons) of today's universe. The term "wild" is used to distinguish these primordial neutrinos from those expected within particle physics and being observed today. Another suspect is dark energy, the anti-gravitational force that accelerates our universe's expansion. Again, however, this would be from the dark energy we observe today.

"Early dark energy is a class of explanations for the origin of cosmic acceleration that arises in some physics models," Linder says. "While conventional dark energy, such as the cosmological constant, are diluted to one part in a billion of total energy density around the time of the CMB's last scattering, early dark energy theories can have 1-to-10 million times more energy density."

Linder says early could have been the driver that seven billion years later caused the present cosmic acceleration. Its actual discovery would not only provide new insight into the origin of cosmic acceleration, but perhaps also provide new evidence for string theory and other concepts in .

"New experiments for measuring CMB polarization that are already underway, such as the POLARBEAR and SPTpol telescopes, will enable us to further explore primeval physics, Linder says.

Explore further: Researchers detect B-mode polarization in cosmic microwave background

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3.7 / 5 (6) Aug 07, 2013
The costs for these kinds of project are spread over many years and borne by several nations. But the results are both spectacular and quite enlightening. In short time, the History Channel comes along and does a special on the CMB, this article is made part of the story, and it all just falls into place: What is known and what is not known just plain for all to see. It will be a great day when this planet is known as the home of A Race of Discoverers! The Human Race: The Sherlock Holmes's of the Universe. That does sound really good, don't you think?

word-to-ya-muthas
rug
2.4 / 5 (5) Aug 07, 2013
Dark energy - An unknown energy to account for the current expansion of space-time.

Could it be possible the Big Bang was just a lot more powerful then we thought and we have not reached the tipping point of gravity yet? Maybe the big bang was so powerful everything reached escape velocity of almost everything else?

Dark matter - Odd kind of matter set as a place holder to account for galaxies spinning faster the the observable matter should allow.

Could it be the mass of the of super-massive black holes are more then we think? Then the reason the galaxies are not bigger is because a large amount of it as already fell into the black hole?

I don't know, that's why I'm asking. I would think these possibilities have already been considered. Since they seem like reasonable, logical explanations.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (4) Aug 07, 2013
Could it be possible the Big Bang was just a lot more powerful then we thought and we have not reached the tipping point of gravity yet? Maybe the big bang was so powerful everything reached escape velocity of almost everything else?


It did, only galaxy clusters are bound, but even above escape velocity, gravity would cause everything to slow. We measure expansion to be speeding up.

Could it be the mass of the of super-massive black holes are more then we think?


They are a small fraction of the mass of any galaxy while dark matter is many times more than all the galaxies together.

I don't know, that's why I'm asking.


That's the best way to find out.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (1) Aug 07, 2013
"Franklins" wrote:

http://arxiv.org/abs/1304.3724


Thanks for the link.
rug
2.3 / 5 (3) Aug 07, 2013
@Fleetfoot - Thanks for the info. I've always wondered why any of the science shows I've watched never mentioned that. Try to look it up one line and come up with a bunch of people saying GR is wrong because of these two things. Nice to finally have an answer that makes sense.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (10) Aug 07, 2013
Mystery fans know that the best way to solve a mystery is to revisit the scene where it began and look for clue To understand the mysteries of our universe scientist are trying to go back as far they can to the Big Bang

So, which way would one look to see "where it began"? If these astronomers were looking at 100 years after the BB, it seems to me they would be looking in a very specific, relatively small area of the universe. And if it's expanding, exactly which way is it expanding? It should be relatively easy to trace back through time to see where all the creationism took place and where we're expanding to.
"I was there when Abbe Georges Lemaitre first proposed this theory. Lemaitre was, at the time, both a member of the Catholic hierarchy and an accomplished scientist. He said in private that this theory was a way to reconcile science with St. Thomas Aquinas' theological dictum of creatio ex nihilo or creation out of nothing." Hannes Alfven

BB = Creationism for scientists
Gmr
1 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2013
First 100,000 years would be before, I think, the universe became transparent - I'm wondering if any of this has any bearing on the end of the inflationary epoch, if that would have any effect or signature in the CMB. I've been curious about the "reheating" section of that, and wondering if there might be clues in the CMB that might narrow down what the events were at the end of inflation, or whether they'd be too buried in that 100,000 years between inflation and the surface of first scattering.
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2013
Mystery fans know that the best way to solve a mystery is to revisit the scene where it began and look for clue To understand the mysteries of our universe scientist are trying to go back as far they can to the Big Bang

So, which way would one look to see "where it began"? If these astronomers were looking at 100 years after the BB, it seems to me they would be looking in a very specific, relatively small area of the universe.


Nope, the model is based on the Cosmological Principle, that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic at very large scales. There was no centre, the conditions everywhere were the same.

And if it's expanding, exactly which way is it expanding?


If you put a map through a photocopier set to magnify by 110%, in which direction does it expand?
Fleetfoot
5 / 5 (3) Aug 08, 2013
First 100,000 years would be before, I think, the universe became transparent


Yes. The CMBR was released at about 380,000 years. The universe became fully "transparent" much later when the gas was reionised by the first stars and AGN which eliminated the absoption by the Lyman Alpha line.

I'm wondering if any of this has any bearing on the end of the inflationary epoch


That happened much earlier, around 10^-32 seconds!!! However the random variations (due to QM) during that period created the seeds for subsequent structure growth and we can measure their spectrum to test inflationary models.
maxb500_live_nl
1 / 5 (2) Aug 08, 2013
You just wonder what all these digital improvements will mean for other spacecraft. The European Space Agency's Planck satellite is 10 years younger then NASA's WMAP. It obviously has a much, much higher resolution. Leading to a change of the age assumption of the universe, a big change in the dark matter percentage and a big change in the dark energy percentage predictions, among other things.

Can`t wait to see the launch of ESA's 1 billion star mapping GAIA. Who knows how many planets it might also find by carefully analyzing 1 billion stars. And ESA's Mars Rover and ESA's Jupiter Icy moons Explorer, JUICE. You just wonder what all these new missions will discover with the ever more impressive technologies.
cantdrive85
1 / 5 (6) Aug 08, 2013
Nope, the model is based on the Cosmological Principle, that the universe is homogeneous and isotropic at very large scales. There was no centre, the conditions everywhere were the same.

Ahh yes, the totally arbitrary CP.

So much confidence for a hypothesis with so little predictive success.

http://www.americ...sue.aspx
lengould100
1 / 5 (2) Aug 09, 2013
I keep thinking about it, and the justification for dark matter "fixing" the galactic rotation problem simply won't come clear to me. My understanding is that there is proposed to be a large mass of dark matter placed outside the galactic orbit of the mist outer stars, which allows all the stars to rotate around the galactic centre at about the same revolutions per million years, from innermost to outermost, thus preserving the observed spiral arms in fairly (in fact precisely) the same relationship to one another through each revolution. ?? That's like telling me that IF one proposed a massive ring around earth (say 7x the mass of earth) at perhaps twice the radius of the geosynchronous orbit, that then geosynchronous satellites (presently 24 hour circuits) and low-orbit satellites (presently 1.5 hour circuits) would both have identical orbital periods. ?? Would that period be 1.5 hours or 24 hours? Why? I thought satellites orbited the Centre Of Mass of a planet.
Gmr
2.6 / 5 (5) Aug 09, 2013
I keep thinking about it, and the justification for dark matter "fixing" the galactic rotation problem simply won't come clear to me.


It's not quite all have the same rate - there is a profile that has a Keplerian distribution closer to the center, but that then flattens out as you go outward along the spiral arms. It's what's called a "cuspy halo" which means it's a bit "hollow" in the middle compared to the outermost region. The upshot is this cloud of mass counteracts what would happen to these elements normally orbiting at this rate if only the visible matter (and estimated cold, dark as in non-light-emitting matter) component were taken into account. An analogy is hard to find - but it would be, in your analogy, more like the 1.5 hour and 24 hour were as they were (Keplerian to a certain radius), but the moon also had that 24 hour orbital period.

And I may be way off base because my understanding is secondhand through study, not my specialty.
lengould100
1 / 5 (1) Aug 09, 2013
(cont'd) system, regardless where that mass is located.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
not rated yet Aug 12, 2013
Funny, no arxiv paper, just a paywalled PRL as Franklins notes.

So it is model-independent, but at z = 10^5 I don't think it goes all the way back to the shift from a matter dominated to a radiation dominated universe (z ~ 10^6).
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2013
@rug: - Dark energy is vacuum energy, so not "unknown".

- No, that space is flat and there are no extra curvature energy stored (or to be stored) is an important find in WMAP. Being flat means the universe was balancing exactly on escape velocity in the matter dominated phase (before ~ 5 billion of age).

- Dark matter is observed in many ways, directly in the CMB, so no "place holder" nor bound to a specific dynamic effect. You are discussing history of DM (and it wasn't that galaxies were spinning faster, but moving faster in clusters and having different orbit profiles of stars around their center).

- BH are ~ 1 billion solar masses (SM) at most as observed by stars et cetera orbiting around them, a typical galaxy standard matter 100 billions SM and its dark matter 1000 billions SM.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (2) Aug 12, 2013
@cantdrive: Obviously we look back everywhere on the sky as the redshifted light, expanded by an expanding universe, reaches us. Think about it, or check Wikipedia's article on big bang. Maybe your problem is that you think the universe expanded "in" something (like an explosion - a center of expansion), instead of is expanding everywhere all the time (like a dough - no center of expansion).

"CP" is not arbitrarily: It is observed by astronomy and CMB both nowadays, so not a "principle" any longer but a "law". And it is the only way to make sensible (FRW) cosmologies. Those two facts are likely correlated.
Torbjorn_Larsson_OM
5 / 5 (1) Aug 12, 2013
Oops, Franklins linked to the arxiv paper (that I missed). Thanks!
Puppetgrimm1
1 / 5 (1) Aug 13, 2013
Rug

Could it be possible the Big Bang was just a lot more powerful then we thought and we have not reached the tipping point of gravity yet? Maybe the big bang was so powerful everything reached escape velocity of almost everything else?

as i have read it the universe was slowing down for the first 5 billion years before it started to speed up from dark energy.