The past according to Planck: Cosmologists got a lot right | Science News


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The past according to Planck: Cosmologists got a lot right

New analysis of universe’s beginning also confirms that puzzles remain

8:00am, February 19, 2015

PRIMORDIAL SWIRL  The patterns and colors in this visualization represent the polarization and temperature of the cosmic microwave background in a small patch of space, emitted when the universe was about 380,000 years old. The Planck mission released a new map encompassing four years of data on this primordial light.

A new analysis of the universe’s first light has cosmologists simultaneously patting themselves on the back and scratching on their chalkboards. The results, obtained from the Planck satellite and posted online in February in a set of papers at, largely support the theoretical framework that cosmologists employ to describe the universe. But there are also some puzzling findings, hinted at in previous research, that could signal undiscovered physical phenomena.

“The old model of the universe is doing remarkably well,” says Shaun Hotchkiss, a cosmologist at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. “But everything that was anomalous in the past is still anomalous.” The Planck results also have a lot to say about inflation, the theorized period just after the Big Bang in which the universe swelled rapidly.

Cosmologists can describe the universe reasonably well with a model based on

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