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The First 100,000 Years of the Universe

By David Reneke

Astronomers view the first 100,000 years of the universe, and NASA outlines the scientific goals for a future landed spacecraft mission to Europa.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

A new analysis of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation data by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory has taken the furthest look back through time yet – 100,000–300,000 years after the Big Bang – and provided tantalising new hints of 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 a testable level using the new data, but there are hints that radiation didn’t give way to matter exactly as expected,” says Eric Linder 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 matter 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’s team analysed satellite data from the European Space Agency’s Planck mission and NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe, which pushed CMB measurements to higher resolution, lower noise and more sky coverage than ever before. “While our analysis shows the CMB photon relic afterglow of the Big Bang being followed...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.