The First Direct Evidence for an Inflationary Model of the Universe
How can we see into the infancy of the Universe? The truth is, we can’t. The Universe burst into life well before free-traveling light even existed. We will never ‘see’ the young Universe… or will we?
Though we can’t look directly at its birth, there are strong theoretical predictions for how the dynamics of the universe in the first second of its life would affect signals that we can detect. Later signals, such as the Cosmic Microwave Background.
Cosmologists of the BICEP2 collaboration released results earlier today of their observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background. They have found the first direct evidence that the early Universe underwent a period of rapid, exponential expansion; an ‘inflation’. In particular, they have detected the signature of gravitational radiation from the early universe, amplified by inflation, imprinted on the CMB. The particulars can be seen in the diagram above (from sky & telescope) and in the article here:
This is crazy awesome stuff. More on it later.