Innovation Blog

“Planck” Reveals Radiation from the Birth of the Universe!

By Shlomo Maital

First full sky-map from “Planck” mission

An announcement on July 5 by the European Space Agency (ESA), about the Planck mission to explore the cosmos went largely unnoticed, but is utterly stunning.  The first full-sky map picture from Planck has been released, and it purports to show the radiation left over from the Big Bang — the birth of the universe.

The Planck mission was launched in May 2009 with the main goal of mapping the CMB, the primordial radiation leftover from the Big Bang. Slight variations in the temperature of the CMB are believed to reflect fluctuations in the early universe from which large structures such as galaxies would later evolve.

One of the main scientific goals of the Planck mission is to investigate what happened during the inflationary period shortly after the Big Bang, when the universe expanded by 1028 within just 10–36 of a second. This process is necessary in all mainstream models of the universe, but the details of the expansion are still debated. “The Planck data will provide our first realistic test of inflationary models ” explained Norma Sanchez, a cosmologist at the Observertoire de Paris, also speaking in Turin.

Neither you, reader, nor I can probably detect where that CMB radiation actually is, in the Planck picture, but I presume the scientists can.  It is still incredible to look at that picture, and to think that in there, somewhere, is the faint trace of the radiation created when the universe was born some 10 billion years ago.

Happy Birthday, Universe.  One day soon, we will truly understand how you were born.  Perhaps then, we will be able to replicate parts of the process, to create our own “suns” (energy from fusion) and forever make BP, Exxon and Gazprom obsolete.