The first fractions of a second after the Big Bang

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Matter went on to form stars and galaxies; the light spread out and cooled
(image by NASA)
There is great hope that Planck will be able to tell us what happened in the first fractions of a second after the Big Bang when the Universe that we can observe today occupied almost no space at all. And by fractions, we mean about a millionth of a billionth, of a billionth, of a billionth of a second after it all got going. The "fossil" light is still evident today. It bathes the Earth in a near-uniform glow which, thanks to the expansion of the Universe, can now be found at microwave frequencies. The tiny quantum fluctuations that drove the expansion could also have given rise to small variations in the amount of matter from one place to another, seeding the later gravitational growth of stars and galaxies. Dr. Jan Tauber, will not be drawn on the findings before the release in Paris. Asked to describe the new temperature maps, he says merely: "They're beautiful."

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