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COBE's swan song: a final sky map.

Two years after the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) Satellite completed its 4-year survey of the microwave background, the faint radiation left over from the Big Bang, researchers have finally finished analyzing all the data.

In 1992, COBE researchers discovered tiny fluctuations in the temperature of the otherwise remarkably uniform distribution of the microwave background (SN: 5/2/92, p. 292). Astronomers believe that these fluctuations correspond to the slightly higher and lower densities of some regions in the primordial universe. These variations ultimately gave rise to today's lumpy collection of stars and galaxies. But the 1992 map could not pinpoint the fluctuations because the data contained about as much noise as actual signal.

A newly released map contains twice as much signal as noise and gives the true location of temperature variations in the microwave background, says Charles L. Bennett of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md. NASA is now considering a follow-up mission that would measure the fluctuations over smaller patches of sky, in an effort to locate the variations more precisely.

This feat would further test the validity of the myriad theories about the evolution of the cosmos.
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Title Annotation:analysis of data collected from Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite complete
Publication:Science News
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Jan 27, 1996
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