South pole telescope detects echoes of Big Bang

The telescope targeted a specific area of sky known as the 'Southern Hole' outside the galaxy. (Flickr)

The telescope targeted a specific area of sky known as the 'Southern Hole' outside the galaxy. (Flickr)

US scientists said on Monday they have found echoes of the Big Bang 14-billion years ago.

The "first direct evidence of cosmic inflation" was found with the help of a telescope at the south pole, and was announced by experts at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics.

The detection of these gravitational waves represents the last untested element of Albert Einstein's general theory of relativity, filling in a major gap in our understanding of how the universe was born.

The gravitational waves are ripples that move through space and time, and have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang."

Integral connection
Their detection confirms an integral connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

"Detecting this signal is one of the most important goals in cosmology today. A lot of work by a lot of people has led up to this point," said John Kovac leader of the Bicep2 collaboration at the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics.

The telescope targeted a specific area of sky known as the "Southern Hole" outside the galaxy where there is little dust and extra galactic material to interfere with what humans can see with the potent sky-peering tool.

By observing the cosmic microwave background, or a faint glow left over from the Big Bang, small fluctuations gave scientists new clues about the conditions in the early universe. – AFP

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