Music of creation is recorded by a time machine

Scientists have recorded the music of creation in an experiment using the astronomical equivalent of a time machine to go back to the origin of the Universe.

Scientists have recorded the music of creation in an experiment using the astronomical equivalent of a time machine to go back to the origin of the Universe.

A telescope suspended from a high-altitude balloon circling the South Pole has detected harmonic "notes", which rang out like a bell in the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang.

Cosmologists believe these minute ripples of sound became the "seeds" of matter, which eventually led to the formation of stars, galaxies and planets such as Earth.

"Not only are we finding out the right notes of the Universe, we're finding what key it's in," said Phil Mauskopf of Cardiff University, the British team leader of the international Boomerang project to investigate the cosmic background radiation ­ known to be the "echo" of the Big Bang.

Paolo de Bernadis, of the University of Rome and joint leader of the Boomerang project, said the findings heralded a new era in the understanding of what happened during the moments when the Universe was created.

He said: "The early Universe is full of sound waves compressing and rarefying matter and light, much like sound waves compress and rarefy air inside a flute or a trumpet.

For the first time the new data show clearly the harmonics of these waves."

Andrew Lange of the Californian Institute of Technology, the other joint leader, said that before these latest findings, the Boomerang telescope had been able to detect only one harmonic note of the Big Bang. "Using a music analogy, we could tell what note we were seeing. Now we see not just one, but three of these peaks, and can tell not only which note but also what instrument," Dr Lange said.

The Boomerang experiment involves 36 scientists drawn from universities and research institutes in Britain, Canada, Italy and the United States. The latest results were released yesterday at a meeting of the American Physical Society in Washington DC. The Boomerang telescope, flying 120,000ft above Antarctica where atmospheric interference is negligible, collected data on the microwave radiation left over from the intense heat of the Big Bang some 12 billion to 15 billion years ago.

This microwave radiation was first detected in 1965, but it was not until 1991 that Nasa's Cosmic Background Explorer satellite (Cobe) detected signs of any structure within the radiation field that could explain the origin of matter.

Boomerang has now deciphered the nature of these structures, or ripples in the microwave radiation, and results show they form a harmonic series of angular scales like a musical score. This is important because if the background microwave radiation was perfectly "smooth" and unperturbed, then it would be difficult for existing cosmological theories to explain how matter could coalesce under the influence of gravity into larger structures, eventually leading to the formation of stars and galaxies.

The findings are doubly important because they relate to the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang, when the Universe expanded from a minute point in space to something billions of times bigger, the so-called inflationary period.

Dr Mauskopf said: "These results are a tremendous confirmation of the inflationary model, and also agree extreme-ly well with measurements of other astronomers using completely different methods."

The Boomerang images cover 3 per cent of the sky and are the forerunners of a project to map the microwave background radiation using two satellites, the first of which is due to be launched this year.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

Recruitment Genius: Marketing Data Specialist

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

Recruitment Genius: Search Marketing Specialist - PPC / SEO

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join the UK's leadin...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This caravan dealership are currently recruiti...

Day In a Page

Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test