WMAP Reveals Neutrinos, End of Dark Ages, First Second of Universe


WMAP cosmic microwave fluctuations over the full sky with 5-years of data. Colors represent the tiny temperature fluctuations of the remnant glow from the infant universe: red regions are warmer and blue are cooler. Credit: WMAP Science Team

NASA released this week five years of data collected by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) that refines our understanding of the universe and its development. It is a treasure trove of information, including at least three major findings:

WMAP cosmic microwave fluctuations over the full sky with 5 years of data. WMAP cosmic microwave fluctuations over the full sky with 5-years of data. Colors represent the tiny temperature fluctuations of the remnant glow from the infant universe: red regions are warmer and blue are cooler.

* New evidence that a sea of cosmic neutrinos permeates the universe
* Clear evidence the first stars took more than a half-billion years to create a cosmic fog
* Tight new constraints on the burst of expansion in the universe’s first trillionth of a second

“We are living in an extraordinary time,” said Gary Hinshaw of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. “Ours is the first generation in human history to make such detailed and far-reaching measurements of our universe.”

Relative constituents of the universe today, and for when the universe was 380,000 years old, 13.7 billion years ago. Neutrinos used to be a larger fraction of the energy of the universe than they are now. Credit: WMAP Science Team

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