The Origin of the Universe as Revealed Through the Polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background
De Bernardis, F.
Won Yoon, K.
Zwart, J.Note: Order does not necessarily reflect citation order of authors.
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CitationDodelson, S., et al., 2009. The Origin of the Universe as Revealed Through the Polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background. White Paper for the Astro2010 PSF Science Frontier Panel.
AbstractModern cosmology has sharpened questions posed for millennia about the origin of our cosmic habitat. The age-old questions have been transformed into two pressing issues primed for attack in the coming decade:
• How did the Universe begin?
The current cosmological paradigm successfully explains how the majestic structure observed in the Universe today grew out of small ripples in the density of matter. What is the physical origin of the primordial seeds which are ultimately responsible for the existence of galaxies, stars, planets, and people in the Universe? It is natural to expect (and many theories predict) that whatever produced the density ripples also produced gravity waves – undulations in the fabric of space-time which travel at the speed of light. Does the Universe contain a spectrum of primordial gravity waves produced by the same mechanism which produced the ripples in the density?
• What physical laws govern the Universe at the highest energies?
All explanations for the seeds of structure rely on physics at energies far beyond those probed by, e.g., CERN’s Large Hadron Collider. Experiments probing these seeds therefore may provide information about new particles, forces, or perhaps even extra dimensions of space that are visible only at the highest energies.
The clearest window onto these questions is the pattern of polarization in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which is uniquely sensitive to primordial gravity waves. A detection of the special pattern produced by gravity waves would be not only an unprecedented discovery, but also a direct probe of physics at the earliest observable instants of our Universe. Experiments which map CMB polarization over the coming decade will lead us on our first steps towards answering these age-old questions.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33717524
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