What exactly happened at the beginning of time? A new probe may uncover the answer.
- A new probe will analyze radiation generated by the birth of the universe.
- The project will require several years of observations.
- The research could explain what happened in the first trillionth of a second after the Big Bang.
How did the universe blossom from an infinitesimally small speck to astronomical proportions in its first trillionth second of existence? While scientists are still debating the answer to that question, a new probe should provide the first direct evidence that the metamorphosis did indeed happen as theories predict.
Once operational, the Cosmology Large Angular Scale Surveyor (CLASS) will scan relic radiation left over from the universe's creation 13.75 billion years ago for a unique pattern of polarization -- a consequence, scientists believe, of gravitational waves caused by the universe's expansion that ripple through space.
"This is a big step in measurement capability," John Hopkins University astrophysicist Charles Bennett told Discovery News. "It provides us a direct image of what the universe used to be like."