We use our new detailed picture to ask:"What happened earlier to make this picture happen?" We can now begin to probe the earliest moments of the universe: Inflation (the rapid expansion of the universe a fraction of a second after its birth.). We have ruled out a textbook example of a particular inflation model. But others will be supported with this new evidence.
Starting from the time of our picture we can ask: "What must have happened later?"
We have compared and combined the new WMAP data with other diverse cosmic measurements (galaxy clustering, Lyman-alpha cloud clustering, supernovae, etc.), and we have found a new unified understanding of the universe:
- Universe is 13.7 billion years old, with a margin of error of close to 1%.
- When the First stars ignited after the Big Bang.
- Light in the WMAP picture is from 379,000 years after the Big Bang.
- Content of the Universe:
- 4% Atoms, 23% Cold Dark Matter, 73% Dark Energy.
- The data places new constraints on the Dark Energy. It seems more like a "cosmological constant" than a negative-pressure energy field called "quintessence". But quintessence is not ruled out.
- Fast moving neutrinos do not play any major role in the evolution of structure in the universe. They would have prevented the early clumping of gas in the universe, delaying the emergence of the first stars, in conflict with the new WMAP data.
- Expansion rate (Hubble constant) value: Ho= 71 (km/sec)/Mpc (with a margin of error of about 5%)
- New evidence for Inflation (in polarized signal)
- For the theory that fits our data, the Universe will expand forever. (The nature
of the dark energy is still a mystery. If it changes with time, or if other unknown
and unexpected things happen in the universe, this conclusion could change.)
Last updated: Thursday, 03-16-2006