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Data from the BICEP2 telescope (shown) may have provided the first evidence of gravitational waves and cosmic inflation, but scientists aren't sure how galactic dust affects the signal. 

DUSTY DATA  The BICEP team used one map (left) to estimate the effect of galactic dust on the polarization of light across the sky (red denotes stronger polarization, blue weaker). Raphael Flauger reconstructed a similar map (right) from other sources showing that dust could account for much more of the signal detected by the BICEP team.

DUSTY DATA  The BICEP2 team used a map of the entire sky (left) to estimate the effect of galactic dust on their measurements. Princeton’s Raphael Flauger reconstructed the map from other sources and found the effects from dust may be much stronger (right) than the team had thought. The colors show the degree to which light from different parts of sky is polarized; red is stronger, blue is weaker. 

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