Radiation from the early universe may be the key to most important questions in physics




Astrophysics, University of California at San Diego measured tiny gravitational distortions in the polarized radiation of the early universe and found that these ancient microwaves can become an important cosmological test Einstein’s general relativity. These measurements have the potential to narrow the estimated mass of the elusive subatomic particles known as neutrinos .

Radiation physicists can even provide clues to other important mysteries of our universe: an invisible “dark matter” and “dark energy” that can not be detected by modern telescopes, can be distributed throughout the universe.

The scientists measured the changes in the polarization of the microwaves emanating from the cosmic microwave, or relic, the background of the early universe. As polarized light (which vibrates in one direction and the scattering of visible light is produced on the surface of the ocean, for example), polarized microwaves (B-mode), open scientists, were born in the early universe, the CMB after 380,000 years after the Big Bang, when the universe cooled enough to allow protons and electrons combined to form atoms.

Astronomers believe that the unique polarization B-modes of early space will allow them to effectively “see” a part of the universe, invisible to optical telescopes. Through a process called “weak gravitational lensing”, as scientists believe, distortions in the scheme of polarization B-modes would allow to map the regions of the universe filled with invisible dark matter and dark energy, as well as check the general theory of relativity on cosmological scales.

The recent discovery confirms both guesses. By measuring the polarization of the CMB data obtained POLARBEAR (astronomers working on the telescope in altitude desert of northern Chile), specifically designed for the detection of polarization «B-modes”, astrophysics San Diego found a weak gravitational lensing in their data. Thus, they concluded that enable them to draw up a detailed map of the structure of the universe, limit the estimated mass of the neutrino and test the strength of general relativity.

“The first time we made similar measurements using the data of the CMB polarization – said Chang Feng, lead author and physicist graduate student at UC San Diego. – This was the first direct measurement of the polarization of the CMB lensing. And the most amazing thing is that the lensing data coincide with those predicted in the framework of Einstein’s General Relativity results. Now we can confirm general relativity on cosmological scales. ”

One of the most important questions in physics, which can be resolved on the basis of these data, it is – the mass of weakly interacting neutrinos. Previously it was thought that neutrinos have no mass at all, but recent calculations have shown that neutrinos have a mass of less than 1.5 volts. Feng also said that the data obtained in the course of his investigation, udovletvoretelny statistically insufficient to draw any conclusions about the neutrino mass. But in the future, he and his colleagues plan to analyze enough data to POLARBEAR, to accurately determine the mass of the elusive particle.

“This study – the first step using a polarizing lensing to measure the neutrino mass, when the entire universe acts as a laboratory. In the end we will be able to put enough neutrinos to “balance” to accurately measure their mass. Using the tools Cheng, we only need the time to learn the neutrino mass, the only fundamental elementary particle with an unknown mass. This would be a remarkable achievement for astronomy, cosmology and physics, of course. ”

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Tags: neutrinos , the Standard Model , Telescopes , Physics .


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