U of M researchers make Big Bang breakthrough - KMSP-TV

U of M researchers make Big Bang breakthrough

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A group of astronomers say they now have evidence the Big Bang was immediately followed by an incredible growth spurt. They've been scanning a part of the sky for 3 years to find what they call evidence to back up 2 major theories, that up until now, have been considered mere speculation.

Professor Clem Pryke is an astrophysicist at the University of Minnesota, and a co-leader of a research group that says they now have proof to back up Einstein's Theory of Relativity and the Theory of Cosmic Inflation.

"We're talking about a tiny fraction of a second in an event that occurred 13.8 billion years ago," Pryke said.

The Theory of Cosmic inflation means the universe underwent a hyper-expansion. Inflation takes a subatomic speck of the universe and blows it up so that it's bigger than the entire observable universe today.

Pryke and his team were looking for patterns of light waves left over from the Big Bang. He spent 3 years scouring 2 percent of the sky for them -- and found them using a telescope at the South Pole.

"What we've done today is we've discovered a particular kind of gravitational wave, so you see gravitational waves written on the sky for the first time," he said.

Physicist Paul Ohmann of the University of St. Thomas says the news is exciting, but more still needs to be done.

"It's weird to think about a huge growth spurt or a very sudden growth spurt in the very early universe but to have observational evidence of it is very significant and that's a neat thing," Ohmann said.

"We'd want it to be confirmed by future experiments and that sort of thing, it would be huge because this class of model called inflation models that give this growth spurt when it was put forward 35 years ago or so, it was pretty speculative," he added.

For now, Pryke is confident this is one of the defining moments of his career.

"This is probably one of the most important things any of us have ever been involved with," he said.

If confirmed, the discovery would be the first detection of the gravitational waves considered the first tremblings of the Big Bang. The team of researchers plans to submit their results to a scientific journal this week.

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