The Sciences

Cosmic Ripples


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

When the cobe satellite in 1992 mapped the faint microwave glow left over from the Big Bang, it couldn’t make out structures as small as individual galaxies, or even clusters of galaxies. Astronomers would dearly have liked to get a glimpse of such structures to find out more about how galaxies were born. Now a team of researchers at Cambridge University in England has found a way to zoom in on the primordial structure of the universe, creating images 60 times sharper than cobe’s--from the ground. The Cosmic Anisotropy Telescope uses three antennas spaced about six feet apart to take advantage of a technique called interferometry. A newly developed computer program analyzes signals from the three antennas and filters out random signals from water vapor in the atmosphere, which are a million times stronger than the cosmic background, leaving only constant signals from cosmic microwaves. cat team leader Paul Scott says, Without interferometry, any sort of observation would be impossible at a sea-level site like Cambridge. This image shows a small section of the sky near the Big Dipper. The bright orange and white areas are regions of high density-- perhaps the seeds of what later became galaxies while the microwaves were traveling to Earth from the edge of the universe. The Cambridge team plans to build a larger version of cat in the Canary Islands in order to map these cosmic wriggles all over the sky.

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 70% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2023 Kalmbach Media Co.