In the latest scientific mission that has studied the most accurate detailed map of the oldest light in the universe, a NASA-assisted European Space Agency mission has revealed some of the most interesting information about the universe's age, contents and origins that were previously unknown.
The study called the "Planck Space Mission" has released a map based on the mission's more than fifteen months of all-sky observations that suggests the universe is at least 100 million years older than previously estimated, making it 13.8 billion years old. The results also suggest that the universe is expanding in slower pace than scientists thought.
The images are accumulated from the oldest light in the universe that was formed in the big bang and has traveled for billions of years from the ancient universe to reach the eyes of modern men on the Earth. This afterglow of the subatomic big bang that made this universe -- scientists call it cosmic microwave background -- represents the seeds of galaxies and clusters of galaxies seen today.
"As that ancient light travels to us, matter acts like an obstacle course getting in its way and changing the patterns lightly," Charles Lawrence, the U.S. project scientist for Planck at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, said in a release "The Planck map reveals not only the very young universe, but also matter, including dark matter, everywhere in the universe."
Dark matter is an invisible substance that can only been seen by the effects of gravity while dark energy is what is pushing our universe apart. The Planck study also shows that universe contains less dark energy and more matter revealing a significant fact that was previously misunderstood - universe is growing in a much slower pace.
"Patterns over huge patches of sky tell us about what was happening on the tiniest of scales in the moments just after our universe was born," Lawrence said.
The Planck mission has imaged the oldest light in our universe, called the cosmic microwave background, with unprecedented precision. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
It took less than only what scientists call "blink of an eye" when a tiny atom blew up in the big bang to make what we call today the "universe" but the light that was created primarily during the bang takes billions of years to reach where the earth currently is. This "afterglow" of the theorized big bang, this "relic radiation" has been studied by the Planck mission and gives scientists a snapshot of the universe 370,000 years after the big bang.
This afterglow began its journey as a white-hot glow, but during the 13.8 billion years, as the universe became bigger by 1,100 times, it cooled down. Scientists have also detected sound waves that traveled though the earliest universe and were later "heard" by the Planck space telescope and have now been translated into frequencies that humans can hear.
(This is an artists concept of the Planck Spacecraft. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech)
The imprints of the sound waves of cosmic microwave background that appear in the Planck map are the seeds from which matter grew, forming stars and galaxies.
The study of the Plank mission not only reinforces the expansion theory of the big bang, but also helps answer some of the deepest questions of science.
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