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First Hundred Thousand Years of Our Universe

Mystery fans know that the best way to solve a mystery is to revisit the scene where it began and look for clues. To understand the mysteries of our universe, scientists are trying to go back as far they can to the Big Bang. A new analysis of cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation data by researchers with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has taken the furthest look back through time yet – 100 years to 300,000 years after the Big Bang – and provided tantalizing new hints of clues as to what might have happened. “We found that the standard picture of an early universe, in which radiation domination was followed by matter domination, holds to the level we can test it with the new data, but there are hints that radiation didn’t give way to matter exactly as expected,” says Eric Linder, a theoretical physicist with Berkeley Lab’s Physics Division and member of the Supernova Cosmology Project. “There appears to be an excess dash of radiation that is not due to CMB photons.” Our knowledge of the Big Bang and the early formation of the universe stems almost entirely from measurements of the CMB, primordial photons set free when the universe cooled enough for particles of radiation and particles of matter to separate. These measurements reveal the CMB’s influence on the growth and development of the large-scale structure we see in the universe today. Full Story at Berkeley Lab News Center.

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