Berkeley Lab researchers take the furthest look back through time yet – 100 years to 300,000 years after the Big Bang – and find tantalizing new hints of clues as to what might have happened.
The Planck collaboration has released its first cosmological results, based on trillions of measurements of the cosmic microwave background. The results owe much to Berkeley Lab’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC), including tens of millions of hours of massively parallel processing, plus the expertise of physicists and computational scientists in the Computational Cosmology Center (C3) who generated a quarter of a million simulated maps of the Planck sky, essential to the analysis.
By collecting tens of thousands of quasar spectra, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) has measured the large-scale structure of the early universe for the first time. Like backlights in the fog, the quasars illuminate clouds of hydrogen gas along the line of sight. No other technique can reach back over 10 billion years to probe structure at a time when the expansion of the universe was still decelerating and dark energy was yet to turn on.
First spectroscopic results from BOSS, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, give the most detailed look yet at the time when dark energy turned on. Over six billion light years distant, halfway back to the big bang, the expanding universe slipped from the grasp of matter’s mutual gravitational attraction. Dark energy took over, and expansion began to accelerate. BOSS is the largest component of the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey, led by scientists from Berkeley Lab.
The biggest 3-D map of the distant universe ever made, showing the distribution of intergalactic clouds of gas by using light from 14,000 galaxy-eating black holes over 10 billion light years away, has been announced by the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), the largest survey in the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey. The result proves that the technique, never attempted before, can be used to study dark energy in the early universe.
It takes special software to map the universe from noisy data. A Berkeley Lab code called MADmap does just that for the cosmic microwave background and has now been adapted by scientists probing the sky with the PACS camera aboard the Herschel satellite to make spectacular images of the infrared universe.