Paris: The European Space Agency (ESA) on Thursday unveiled the most detailed map yet of relic radiation from the Big Bang, revealing new data it hopes will shed light on the creation and expansion of our Universe.
The 50-million pixel, all-sky image of the oldest light adds an edge of precision to some existing cosmological theories, defining more precisely the composition of the Universe and its age — about 80 million years older than previously thought.
“This is a giant leap in the understanding of the origins of the universe,” the agency’s director general Jean-Jacques Dordain told a press conference in Paris.
“This image is the closest one yet of the Big Bang. You are looking 13.8 billion years ago.”
The map is composed of data gathered by ESA’s Planck satellite, launched in May 2009 to study Cosmic Microwave Background — the remains of ancient radiation emitted as the Universe started cooling after the Big Bang.
“What we are seeing is a picture of the microwave sky, a picture of the Universe as it was 380,000 after the Big Bang,” George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, told journalists.