Cardiff University researchers part of the BICEP2 big bang breakthrough

Cardiff University physicists are part of an international team who have discovered new evidence explaining the first few seconds of the big bang.

Gravitational waves put a twist on the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background. (Pic:BICEP2)
Gravitational waves put a twist on the polarisation of the cosmic microwave background. (Pic:BICEP2)

Researchers from BICEP2, which stands for background imaging of cosmic extragalactic polarisation, announced yesterday the first direct evidence for cosmic inflation in the first few seconds of the universe.
Dr Rashmi Sudiwala, a senior member of the Cardiff team, contributed to the building and development of the BICEP2 telescope in Antarctica, while Dr Carole Tucker, Deputy Head of the Physics and Astronomy school, contributed to the development and provision of key optical components.
The groundbreaking results came from observations by the BICEP2 telescope of the cosmic microwave background – a faint glow left over from the Big Bang – which builds on the small aperture telescope design of BICEP1. The data also represents the first images of gravitational waves described as the “first tremor of the Big Bang”.
Professor Peter Ade of Cardiff University’s School of Physics and Astronomy said: “Having worked on many ground breaking CMB (cosmic microwave background) experiments for the last 30 years it is pleasing to finally confirm the inflationary hypothesis with this detection of B-modes (a unique signature of gravitational waves).
“The next step in the story is to confirm this discovery with the Planck Satellite. The full analysis of the Planck data is currently ongoing, and we hope will be ready for release later this year”.
John Kovac, leader of the BICEP2 collaboration, said: “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”.