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Mapping the microwave background.

About 20 years ago the discovery of the cosmic background of microwave radiation, which comes to us from all directions and appears to represent blackbody radiation at 2.7 kelvins, brought the Big Bang theory of cosmology out of the shadows and made it the standard cosmology. In recent years continuing evidence that the background is strictly isotropic, the same in all directions, has necessitated serious revisions of the Big Bang, the so-called inflationary Big Bang theories.

The latest addition to the evidence, published by Philip Lubin, Thyrso Villela, Gerald Epstein ( now at the Office of TEchnology Assessment in Washington, D.C.) and George Smoot of the Lawrence Berkeley (Calif.) Laboratory in the Nov. 1 ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL LETTERS, involved measurements at a wavelength of 3.o millimeters taken during four balloon flights -- three from Palestine, Texas, and one from Cachoeira Paulista, Brazil. They covered 85 percent of the sky and enabled the observers to make a map of the sky that indicates overall isotropy and supports current inflationary Big Bang theories. The well-known dipole anistropy, which is interpreted as being due to a motion of our local group of galaxies and is not a cosmological problem, does appear. According tok it, this group is moving at about 550 kilometers per second toward a point at right ascension 10.7 hours and declination -22[deg.]. This point is about 44[deg.] away from the center of the Virgo cluster, our nearest cluster. Quadrupole anisotropies, which have been reported by other observers and which would be a cosmological problem, do not appear in these data.
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Publication:Science News
Date:Dec 7, 1985
Words:263
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