Baby Universe Lumpy

SUBHEAD: First detailed map of the infant universe after Big Bang shows asymmetry and dark matter.

By Makiko Kitamura on 21 March 3013 for Bloomberg News -

Image above: From (

The first map of the universe in its infancy showed the seeds of the stars and galaxies of today and previously unobserved anomalies, astronomers said.

The all-sky map is based on the first 15.5 months of observations with the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite, capturing the oldest light in the universe, emitted when it was only 380,000 years old, the agency and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics said in a statement.

The data generated from the map generally confirm the established view of the universe and imply that it is 13.82 billion years old. They also show some new features, such as a greater proportion of dark matter than previously thought, with normal matter, consisting of galaxies, stars and Earth, contributing only about 5 percent to the total mass and energy density, the scientists said.

Another surprise was an asymmetry in the average temperatures on opposite hemispheres of the sky, they said.

“The extraordinary quality of Planck’s portrait of the infant universe allows us to peel back its layers to the very foundations, revealing that our blueprint of the cosmos is far from complete,” said Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency, in the statement.

The data also revealed that the universe is expanding at a rate that is signifantly less than previously estimated, and a cold spot extending over a patch of sky is much larger than expected. A possible explanation is that the universe is in fact not the same in all directions, they said.

“We see an almost perfect fit to the standard model of cosmology, but with intriguing features that force us to rethink some of our basic assumptions,” said Jan Tauber, ESA’s Planck project scientist. “This is the beginning of a new journey and we expect that our continued analysis of Planck data will help shed light on this conundrum.”

Most Detailed Picture of Big Bang

By Staff on 22 March 2013 for AFP -

The European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday unveiled the most detailed map yet of relic radiation from the Big Bang, revealing new data it hopes will shed light on the creation and expansion of our Universe.

The 50-million pixel, all-sky image of the oldest light adds an edge of precision to some existing cosmological theories, defining more precisely the composition of the Universe and its age - about 80 million years older than previously thought.

“This is a giant leap in the understanding of the origins of the universe,” the agency’s director general Jean-Jacques Dordain told a press conference in Paris.“This image is the closest one yet of the Big Bang.

You are looking 13.8 billion years ago.”The map is composed of data gathered by ESA’s Planck satellite, launched in May 2009 to study Cosmic Microwave Background - the remains of ancient radiation emitted as the Universe started cooling after the Big Bang.

“What we are seeing is a picture of the microwave sky, a picture of the Universe as it was 380,000 after the Big Bang,” George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, told journalists.

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