New CMB Measurements Support Standard Model

New measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – the leftover light from the Big Bang – lend further support the Standard Cosmological Model and the existence of dark matter and dark energy, limiting the possibility of alternative models of the Universe. Researchers from Stanford University and Cardiff University produced a detailed map of the composition and structure of matter as it would have looked shortly after the Big Bang, which shows that the Universe would not look as it does today if it were made up solely of ‘normal matter’.

By measuring the way the light of the CMB is polarized, a team led by Sarah Church of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at Stanford University and by Walter Gear, head of the School of Physics and Astronomy at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom were able construct a map of the way the Universe would have looked shortly after matter came into existence after the Big Bang. Their findings lend evidence to the predictions of the Standard Model in which the Universe is composed of 95% dark matter and energy, and only 5% of ordinary matter.

Polarization is a feature of light rays in which the oscillation of the light wave lies in right angles to the direction in which the light is traveling. Though most light is unpolarized, light that has interacted with matter can become polarized. The leftover light from the Big Bang – the CMB – has now cooled to a few degrees above 0 Kelvin, but it still retains the same polarization it had in the early Universe, once it had cooled enough to become transparent to light. By measuring this polarization, the researchers were able to extrapolate the location, structure, and velocity of matter in the early Universe with unprecedented precision. The gravitational collapse of large clumps of matter in the early universe creates certain resonances in the polarization that allowed the researchers to create a map of the matter composition.

Dr. Gear said, “The pattern of oscillations in the power spectra allow us to discriminate, as “real” and “dark” matter affect the position and amplitudes of the peaks in different ways. The results are also consistent with many other pieces of evidence for dark matter, such as the rotation rate of galaxies, and the distribution of galaxies in clusters.”

The measurements made by the QUaD experiment further constrain those made by previous experiments to measure properties of the CMB, such as WMAP and ACBAR. In comparison to these previous experiments, the The QUaD experiment, located at the South Pole, allowed researchers to measure the polarization of the CMB with very high precision. Image Credit: Sarah Churchmeasurements come closer to fitting what is predicted by the Standard Cosmologicl Model by more than an order of magnitude, said Dr. Gear. This is a very important step on the path to verifying whether our model of the Universe is correct.

The researchers used the QUaD experiment at the South Pole to make their observations. The QUaD telescope is a bolometer, essentially a thermometer that measures how certain types of radiation increase the temperature of the metals in the detector. The detector itself has to be near 1 degree Kelvin to eliminate noise radiation from the surrounding environment, which is why it is located at the frigid South Pole, and placed inside of a cryostat.

Paper co-author Walter Gear said in an email interview:

“The polarization is imprinted at the time the Universe becomes transparent to light, about 400,000 years after the big bang, rather than right after the big bang before matter existed. There are major efforts now to try to find what is called the “B-mode” signal”  which is a more complicated polarization pattern that IS imprinted right after the big-bang. QuaD places the best current upper limit on this but is still more than an order of magnitude away in sensitivity from even optimistic predictions of what that signal might be. That is the next generation of experiments’s goal.”

The results, published in a paper titled Improved Measurements of the Temperature and Polarization of the Cosmic Microwave Background from QUaD in the November 1st Astrophysical Journal, fit the predictions of the Standard Model remarkably well, providing further evidence for the existence of dark matter and energy, and constraining alternative models of the Universe.

Source: SLAC, email interview with Dr. Walter Gear

51 Replies to “New CMB Measurements Support Standard Model”

  1. I understand what you mean, but calling it the Standard Model is a tad misleading.

    I’d’ve though the placement in Antarctica had more to do with the atmosphere.

  2. In the first paragraph of the above article (emphasis mine):

    New measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – the leftover light from the Big Bang – lend further support [to] the Standard Cosmological Model and the existence of dark matter and dark energy, limiting the possibility of alternative models of the Universe.

    So there, Anaconda! Stick that in your goddamn pipe and smoke it!

  3. The B-modes are anisotropies due to polarization states. These are expected in inflationary models. So this is a pretty good indicator that inflation is the physics which solves the flatness problem, or at least there is more evidence to support it.

    Doubtless Anaconda will be here soon to throw poop all over the place and turn this thread into another crappola fest over EU.


  4. Congrats to all involved with this experiment., considering the logistics and resupply hurdles the team must have faced in such an inhospitable location, all in the name of scientific research. And where are the predicted results from the ‘plasma science’ _crowd_ and how do they refute their stance that EM radiation is the dominant force for forming the universe we see around us?

    Btw, any links available to a free preprint of this article?

  5. […]has now cooled to a few degrees above Kelvin[…]

    äh, what? 😀 I wonder, why Ivan3man hadn’t said something about it, yet!?

  6. @ Jon Hanford
    Sadly, there isn’t a free preprint of the article available; you have to have a subscription to the Astrophysical Journal. The paper you link to in your second comment is by the same authors, and does discuss the results of the same experiment, though in less methodological detail, so happy reading!

  7. @ DrFlimmer,

    Err… it was because I ran out of coffee, so I didn’t finish reading the article because I had to go to the local convenience store to buy some more. Good catch there!

  8. @Nicholos Wethington, Btw, congrats on a informative, illuminating article on on a fairly technical field or research. This is the first article I’ve seen by you here at UT, but I’m impressed on your personal correspondence with Dr. Gear as this gave the story added perspective compared with the usual PR by an institution or organization. Thanks for the clarification on the article I linked to, also 🙂

    @Dr. Flimmer, Ivan3man must have brainfreeze or is too near Anaconda and his pipe 🙂 . Btw, glad you didn’t take a sabbatical from your schoolwork to read NASA press releases on plasma, as suggested by Anaconda :). This outlandish proposal would have sent my profs into fits of uncontrollable laughter 🙂

  9. The QUAD COLLABORATION paper Hanford references does spell out the detetion of b modes. These are remnants of gravitational waves produced in the big bang, The FLRW metric for cosmology has the radial parameter replaced with

    a(t) –> (1 – 2GM/rc^2)a(t)

    for a gravitating source with some mass M. Inflation applied to this metric will retain the tensor field components, which are gravitational wave. Gravitational waves have 2 polarization states and perturb matter distrubutions. These small inhomogeneous pertrubations survive to the end ot the radiation dominated period. This means that the CMB exhibits polarization of EM radiation in accordance with the gravitational waves. This paper works with Stokes parameters, which were set locally by this physics.

    This put a number of buttresses up for the big bang cosmology and inflation — contrary to what some EU wogs keep saying.

    Cheers LC

  10. @ Jon Hanford

    Well, I considered that I prefer staying brainwashed and under the influence of my instructors at university. A read of NASA pages would clear my mind and I would become some of those EU guys myself. No, no, I can’t let this happen. 😀

  11. Hmmm?

    95% of the Universe is composed of “dark” matter.

    Something that isn’t visible and astronomy doesn’t know what it is, or where it is, or if it’s even there.

    And going back some 12 billion odd years, the researchers say they know with “precision” what everything looked like.

    This is the emperor with no clothes.

    Not only with “precision”, but “unprecedented precision.”???

    Think about it.

    You got 5% of something (to your way of thinking) and you go back 12 billion years, how, linearly, and expect to know where everying is with “unprecedented precision”?

    It absurd.

    But that’s how bad astronomy has gotten.

    It can’t even see itself in the mirror.

  12. Something the post and the SLAC doesn’t mention, funny, but “polarization” indicates magnetism.

    Take a look at the SLAC press release:

    See the image on the right that mentions polarization.

    The lines superimposed on the image represent general magnetic fields.

    And this is supposed to indicate certainty for what the Universe looked like 12 billion years ago or further?

    “…limiting the possibility of alternative models of the Universe.”

    Oh, so, convenient.

    But that’s an unsupported statement (naked assertion).

    Is that really supposed to be persuasive?

    I guess this gets the “A-men corner” all fired up in the church of astronomy devoted to “darkness”, this time a whopping 95%.

    And these theories are suppost to explain the Universe.

    It doesn’t pass the laugh out loud test 🙂

  13. I told you he’d show up here. As the Queen song goes, with respect to this blog thread, “Another one bites the dust, another one’s down, another one’s down, another one bites the dust.”

    Beside Mr. Anaconda, you are clearly confused about dark energy and dark matter. You apparently don’t know the difference. If you are going to argue against something like this it behooves you to have some minimal understanding of it.


  14. In view of the usual rantings by our resident crank “Anaconda”, I present here, for everyone’s perusal, this interesting PDF file:
    Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self-Assessments.

  15. @ Lawrence B. Crowell,

    Mr. Anaconda does not ‘argue’ against something like this; he just barks at it like those dumb dogs who always bark at ringing phones.

  16. Anaconda Says:
    November 4th, 2009 at 5:56 pm

    “It doesn’t pass the laugh out loud test :-)”

    That would be that scientific test you’ve perfected whereby if something doesn’t fit with your ill-conceived notion of how the universe behaves, you laugh at it because that is the only thing you can do when you don’t have a, ummm, you know, proper physics-based argument against it?

    I guess it’s the sort of thing you have to do when evidence just keeps piling up against you with each new observation that comes in… Then again, I guess you could take the opposite tack and make some PREDICTIONS with your own toy theory – that is after all what these experiments are set up to check, but hey, then you might find out you’re wrong huh, and that just wouldn’t be in the spirit of science, would it?

    Cummon – the Plank satellite is up there now Anaconda and fellow EUers. What’s she gonna find? Any takers? Didn’t think so…

  17. Crowell wrote: ” If you are going to argue against something like this it behooves you to have some minimal understanding of it.”

    That’s funny 🙂

    Conventional astronomy doesn’t understand “dark matter” or ‘dark energy”.

    As “dark” is a synonym for “we don’t know what it is”. At best it’s “unknown”.

    How can you understand something that is “unknown”? It’s an oxymoron.

    How can you understand something that “we don’t know what it is”? It’s an oxymoron.

    Sure, I understand that “dark matter” is supposedly something that exerts an attractive power and “dark energy” is something that supposedly exerts an expansionary force on the Universe.

    But these are really “darknesses” that act as magical pixie dust to keep the gravity “only” model from being falsified.

    But it’s too late, the gravity ‘only” model already has been falsified, you guys just don’t know it becasue it’s too dear to your belief system to realize it.

    “Their findings lend evidence to the predictions of the Standard Model…”


    The so-called Standard Model never predicted “dark matter” until it was found that the Standard Model did not work with the gravity from the visible Universe. Then “dark matter” was conjured up.

    It’s called the ‘but for’ test.

    But for the failure of the Standard Model “dark matter” would never have been even thought of.

    That’s referred to as an ad hoc layering to salvage the model.

    It’s like shooting fish in a barrel.

    But the desperation to save the “big bang” and the gravity “only” model leads to pseudoscience like this.

  18. This SLAC press release claims to be serious science, but why would a serious science release neglect to mention polarization is evidence for the presence of magnetic fields.

    Could it be that mentioning magnetic fields contradicts their preferred narative that this “finding” makes “the possibility of alternative models of the Universe” less likely?

    As in magnetic fields are caused by electric currents, charged particles in motion, like, you know. plasma.

    What’s ironic is that their “findings” actually present more scientific evidence for Plasma Cosmology than it does for the “big bang”.

    I suppose that’s possibly why they felt so compelled to spin a yarn about a Universe of 95% “we don’t know what it is”:

    And then talk about “unprecedented precision”.

    It’s ludicrous on its face.

  19. Astrofiend wrote: “…that is after all what these experiments are set up to check…”

    How can you check up on an experiment where 95% of the dynamic is supposedly unknown?

    How can it be falsified?

    It can’t.


    But the emerging portrait of the Universe is a ‘cosmic web’, in which galaxies are embedded in filaments stretching between voids, creating a gigantic wispy structure.

    These filaments will be found to be magnetized and flowing plasma will be found within these magnetic fields.

    Oops! I’m sorry, that’s already been observed & measured…my bad 🙂

  20. Anaconda Says: “Conventional astronomy doesn’t understand “dark matter” or ‘dark energy’.”

    We know a lot about both of them. Dark matter is known to exist by gravitational means. Further, the Bullet galaxy cluster is the collision of two galaxies, where by gravitational lensing of distant light it is clear an invisible mass-energy component is separating away from the luminous matter. So we have a good understanding that dark matter exists.

    Dark matter is not understood on what might be called the “atomic level.” We are not sure what it is composed of. Probably the likeliest candidate is the neutralino, which is a mixed eigenstate or condensate of the supersymmetric pairs of the photon, higgs and Z_0 particle. The recent Fermi Gamma ray detection of the galaxy center does indicate a lot of inverse Compton scattering of electron-positron pairs. The energy distribution as previously detected by the PAMELA detector is consistent with the decay or annihilation channel for neutralinos.

    Dark energy is a different thing altogether. This is likely due to a quantum vacuum energy which is correlated with an overall Ricci curvature to the spacetime of the universe. The Einstein field equation is

    R_{ab} – (1/2)Rg_{ab} + /\g_{ab} = (8pi G)T_{ab}.

    The term g_{ab} is the metric which defines a distance in space or here spacetime, R_{ab} is the Ricci curvature tensor, R = R_{ab}g^{ab} is the Ricci scalar, /\ is the cosmological constant, and T_{ab} is the mass-energy source terms for spacetime curvature or gravity. Beyond this point you might have to research more on your own. If we ignore T_{ab} as the universe is diffuse then the Ricci curvature is due to this constant /\ times the metric. This is called an Einstein spacetime, and cosmologies as well as Petrov-Pirani type N solutions for gravity waves are examples. The cosmological constant is considered to be due to a source which is the quantum vacuum state. To make the story short this means that

    /\ = 8pi G(e + 3p)

    for e the energy density of the vacuum, and p the pressure term. The energy density is related to the quantum vacuum state with = e for H the Hamiltonian of the quantum fields of the universe. This term is what in the de Sitter spacetime or vacuum cosmology is driving what is termed “eternal inflation,” which has been observed in SN1 observations, WMAP and now with b modes detected by Planck spacecraft.

    There are lots of things yet to be understood about DE and DM, but we do know some things about them, more than we did in the past and doubtless we will understand more in the future. I wrote this with some hope that maybe some actual content is returned to this blog thread and we have a moment above Anaconda’s fatuities. I am really beginning to sense how it is the social-mind of people can become so easily swayed into embracing error and outright medacities. This has become particularly the case in the United States, where in the last couple of decades a huge media system devoted to telling lies has grown — from religious broadcasting to cable news. It seems that “alt-science” has accompanied this as well.

    Cheers LC

  21. Ok, here is an indicator. On the blog thread about the skeketal filaments of the universe I asked Anaconda a question about the impedance of the vacuum. I bring this little exchange up here because that blog thread is about to sunset off the first page here. This speaks volumes!

    Anaconda wrote: Crowell asks: “Here is an electromagnetic question for Anaconda. Why does empty space act as a resistor…”?

    Because a vacuum acts at least as a partial insulator.

    Lawrence B. Crowell Says:
    November 5th, 2009 at 6:19 am
    Anaconda’s answer goes furlongs in illustrating the problem here! It suggests that in reality he knows little about electromagnetism, but only parrots a lot of hype about it.

    Empty space is not an electrical insulator at all!!! Electrons or any charged particle can travel through space at a constant velocity with no impedance what so ever. However, if I wiggle that charged particle in a periodic manner, the radial lines of electric force have to adjust outwards at the speed of light with an associated magnetic field. This is the radiation of an electromagnetic wave. This can be easily calculated with Maxwell’s equation. This then, which can be seen by the Lenz law of electro-motive force, resists the force I am applying to the charged particle. The energy of the EM wave is being supplied by my wiggling is related to a resistive force or F = int F*dr.

    Next question: Can you use Maxwell’s equations to calculate what the impedance of free space is based on my description above?

    Cheers LC

  22. It doesn’t matter how much you “idiot proof’ the standard model. Because nature will always create a better idiot. Who thinks everything revolves around plasma.

  23. I suppose it is a bit like the second law of thermodynamics. I wrote this on the flament thread which has “sunset” off the first page.I thought it was ND who posted the APA paper, but it was Ivan3man

    Flimmer’s question involves the Olber paradox. If the universe were infinite in extent, then any line or ray projecting from your eye (in the opposite direction of photon flow) would reach the surface of a star. So the night sky should then appear about as bright as the surface of the sun. Clearly something is wrong here.

    The first person to try to solve this was Edgar Allan Poe. He proposed that stars were dying at a faster rate than they were being born — sort of in keeping with his rather dark views of things. Of course reality is far darker. The universe is expanding and distant objects appear Doppler shifted. There is also the speed of light and time-distance relation.

    Lemaitre did say that his cosmic egg was similar to an atom or nucleus which changed by some quantum fluctuation or a similar process to a radio active decay. While this is a bit outdated, the idea is not completely off the mark. Further, the process by which the universe came into existence is a physical process.

    This is so sad IMO. I think it was ND who posted the site

    And this about says it all. This also seems to have dominated so much of American society. It is a bit of an infection, and PU on astronomy websites and blogs is just one facet of this problem.


  24. That would be the ‘plasma only’ crowd, and they definitely pass the laugh out loud test 🙂

  25. Nice! Inflation FTW.

    […]has now cooled to a few degrees above Kelvin[…]

    äh, what? 😀 I wonder, why Ivan3man hadn’t said something about it, yet!?

    Thanks for pointing that out!

    Well, IVAN3MAN can still do his thing. According to ths SI standards, Kelvin is the person and kelvin is the measure (but K is the acronym). 😀

    I note that the Large First Letter Thing is Big in US, which is fine but spills over on measures and their short forms.

  26. @ Crowell:

    You are right. I stand corrected there is no resistence only the distance between the charged particles.

    A vacuum tube works on the principle that a vacuum or near vacuum cuts down resistence and allows the charged particles to flow in the vacuum space.

    Thank you for the correction.

  27. Ah, so sometimes NASA is right and sometimes NASA is just wrong….. that is convinient…..

  28. But… , the vacuum does have an impedance for an oscillating current. The reason is because the electric field of the charges must respond to the driving force moving the charges. The response results in an electromagnetic wave, which takes energy out of the current and radiates it into free space. This is an impedance. Any idea of how to calculate that?


  29. Re NASA, being right, and being wrong: here’s a curious thing about this (well, in addition to the fact that this refers only to Press Releases, that a government agency cannot be a final arbiter of scientific validity, that …)

    NASA is only right when NASA reports things which align with what Anaconda adheres to/believes in.

    Conversely, NASA is always wrong when NASA reports things which are manifestly inconsistent with what Anaconda adheres to/believes in.

    But, as Alice is reported to have said, it gets curiouser and curiouser … if NASA reports things which Anaconda thinks support what he adheres to/believes in, but in fact the reports do the opposite, well, then the SOP (standard operating procedure) to be found in some companies provides ultimate resolution.

    This SOP has but two rules, as follows:

    Rule #1: The Boss is always right.

    Rule #2: In case The Boss is not right, refer to Rule #1.

  30. Anaconda (referring to L.B.C.):

    You are right. I stand corrected…

    Yeah, but for how long?! You were corrected a number of times, back there at Bad Astronomy, by Tom Marking, DrFlimmer, as well as myself, but you came here instead to continue spouting your pseudoscience crap about the “Electric Universe” in an attempt to ‘evangelize’ the silent masses, who are reading these posts at Universe Today and the comments below them, by sowing doubt about “modern astronomy” and offering an easy candy-assed answer to anyone dumb enough to listen to you and your friends at the Thunder[bollocks].info forum!

  31. DrFlimmer wrote: “Ah, so sometimes NASA is right and sometimes NASA is just wrong….. that is convenient…..”

    Do you have any specific objections to NASA’s explanation of electromagnetism in space?

    See, that’s the difference, you won’t even challenge NASA because…well…you know they are right regarding electromagnetism in the solar system.

    On the other hand, I’ve been specific about my disagreements with “dark matter”, “dark energy”, the “big bang” and “black holes” and all the rest, over the course of these ongoing comments on this website.

    DrFlimmer, do you think a person or an organization can be right about specific issues and wrong about other issues?

    Or are they either right about everything or wrong about everything?

    If so, I suggest that is a simplistic world-view.

    Obviously, NASA has access to copious in situ satellite probe observations & meaurements regarding the solar system.

    Again, DrFlimmer, do you have specific objections to NASA’s interpretations & analysis of the in situ observations & measurements?

    NASA is like everybody else when it comes to remote observation & measurement outside the solar system.

  32. From the NASA link:

    “…the entire Universe was contained in a single point in space.”

    How much volume does “a single point in space” have?

    I’m still waiting for an answer…

    crickets chirping…

  33. I have no objections, as you might have noticed.

    The thing is, that it really seems like Nereid is right. And that is the problem.
    As you might have noticed, as well, I was trying to be ironic with my statement…..

    How much volume does “a single point in space” have?

    Depends on the space it is in, I guess. In a zero-dimensional space its volume should be infinite……

  34. DrFlimmer,

    In a sense that is right. A projective space is thought of as the blow up of a point. So any point has associated with it a projective geometry, which is infinte.

    When it comes to Anaconda, you still have not answered the question about the impedance of free space. Jeez, at this point you could probably look this up somewhere.

    This thread is about to sunset off page one here. I have abandoned the filament thread on page 2. This is chewing up too much time. I will look tomorrow to see if my question is anwered.


  35. Crowell asks: “When it comes to Anaconda, you still have not answered the question about the impedance of free space.”

    Off hand, I don’t know.

  36. @ Anaconda,

    For someone who claims to know a lot about plasma cosmology, you display little knowledge of the basics of general physics.

    You would be well advised to enroll yourself into a real university, like DrFlimmer has, instead of parroting that EU/PC rubbish, which you obviously learned by rote from that Thunder[bollocks].info group! Just a suggestion.

  37. Anaconda,

    This is further telling. On the impedance of free space we start with the two Maxwell equations

    curlE = -&B/&t

    curlH = J + &D/&t

    curl V, for V a vector is the determinant of partial derivatives, & = partial. J is a current and E and B are the electric and magnetic fields, D is the electric displacement field:

    D = eps*E eps= dielectrtic constant

    and H is the magnetization field:

    H = B/mu, mu = magnetic permittivity.

    Ok take the curl on both sides of curlE = -&B/&t,

    curl curl E = -&(curl B)/&t

    Now use some vector identities and substitute in curlB = mu*curlH and use the second of these equations. Now assume a plane wave solution E, B ~ exp(ikx – iwt) with a dispersion that frequency w = kc, for c the speed of light, which above I set to unity (it is common to set c = 1 until later) and you find an equation of the form

    E = eps*c*J

    This is a form of Ohm’s law and the resistance is R = eps*c = sqrt(eps/mu). You can fill in the details.

    It is clear that to understand these things you really need to take the appropriate course work and maybe get a degree, at least an undergraduate degree. Then you might actually understand something rather than just parroting a lot of jargon.


  38. I just want to point out that if Anaconda thinks he’s going to proselytize the masses who know not of his hypotheses, he’s going to have trouble considering it’s at least one guy (if not more) with a Ph.D. and [b]the very website he’s preaching[/b] along with a handful of other people against one guy who seems to be frothing at the mouth about the idea of anyone believe things he doesn’t like.

    So, yeah, he’s probably not going to succeed. Hurrah for exercices in futility!

  39. Gah, “the very website he’s preaching on” is what I meant. I wasn’t sure what method of mark-up this used.

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