Astronomers announced a HUGE discovery yesterday. They claim to have found the first direct evidence to support the Big Bang and the Inflationary Theory of the universe.
For those who aren’t totally familiar with the theory, it basically states that 13.8 billion years ago all the matter in the universe existed in an extremely dense ball of matter (known as the singularity) about the size of a pinhead.
Then this singularity, no longer able to hold itself together, blew apart, expanding by 100 trillion trillion times (that’s 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 times) in less than the blink of an eye.
Here’s a nice graphic illustrating inflationary theory (the top numbers are the time after the Big Bang, the bottom numbers the average temperature of the universe)
Scientists theorized that this explosion was so massive and violent that it ripped apart space itself. Einstein theorized that if this were the case, we would be able to observe gravitational waves (which squeeze and stretch space) that were left over from the Big Bang.
So how did the scientists know they had observed gravitational waves? Well, these waves produce a very distinct “swirly” pattern (like the ones in the image below) in polarized light, known as “B-mode” polarization. Polarization is when light waves are distorted from their original shape.
There have been a number of discoveries in the past which pointed indirectly to the Big Bang and expansion, such as the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation, but scientists consider this discovery the first direct evidence supporting the inflationary theory.
Read the full story from Space Industry News here.