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An Even More Complex Universe

Five years after the development of the first microwave image of the universe, the most extensive and accurate picture we have of the primordial universe, on July 18, the European Space Agency published the last version of the data gathered by the Planck Space Observatory.

The project, financed by the Italian Space Agency, involved a number of scientific institutions, such as the National Astrophysics Institute, and over 300 researchers from around the world, including a group of observative cosmology headed by Paolo de Bernardis and composed by Silvia Masi, Alessandro Melchiorri and Francesco Piacentini, from the Department of Physics at Sapienza University.

The new results are based on the data gathered over four years, from the probe’s launch in 2009 to the discovery in 2013 of a map of the cosmic background obtained with microwaves. Unlike with visible light, which has a wavelength of less than a thousandth of a millimetre, the Planck Observaotry measured longer waves measuring a few tenths of a millimetre to a few millimetres. This radiation was emitted when the universe was formed and is knowns as the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. Measuring the almost imperceptible differences that this radiation has in different areas of the cosmos, it was possible to map an image and interpret the age, expansion, history and content of the universe.

The analysis of this data has confirmed the predictions of the standard cosmological model, but also point to interesting anomalies on the correct value of Hubble’s Constant, the rate of expansion of the universe, leaving a doubt on the presence of a new physics. Indeed, if one the one hand the observatory confirms the overall set of predictions on the standard cosmological model, it also raises the need for further studies and missions to decipher the identified anomalies.

For further information:

Paolo De Bernardis
Department of Physics, Sapienza University

Alessandro Melchiorri
Department of Physics, Sapienza University