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Astronomers detect direct evidence of cosmic inflation
Posted: Tue, Mar 18, 2014, 7:30 AM ET (1130 GMT)
BICEP2 microwave telescope at South Pole (CfA) A team of astronomers announced Monday that they had detected primordial gravitational waves in the cosmic microwave background, a discovery they say provides the strongest evidence yet of a dramatic period of inflation immediately after the Big Bang. The Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2 (BICEP2) effort used a microwave telescope at the South Pole to study polarization of the cosmic microwave background. Those observations showed evidence of twisting patterns in the polarization, a signature of gravitational waves, stronger than astronomers expected. Those waves are expected if the universe underwent an exponential expansion an instant after the Big Bang, an event called inflation, that is today the best model for the Big Bang.
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