So recently some rumors have been floating online about a big discovery in astrophysics. And it turns out, scientists working at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center have announced finding convincing evidence of primordial gravitational waves — a discovery as big as the elusive Higgs boson particle. The detection has yet to be published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal, however physicists, after painstakingly checking the results over and over again, feel absolutely confident that what they observed were gravity waves.
“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,” said John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who leads the BICEP2 collaboration responsible for the discovery. Meanwhile Andrew Pontzen, a cosmologist from University College London, said that it is a discovery that represents a whole new era in cosmology and could easily lead to a Nobel prize.
The importance of the discovery also comes from the fact that the data is first direct evidence for inflation — an important era in the history of the early universe when it expanded rapidly. Without this sudden growth spurt, the gravitational waves would not have been amplified enough to be visible.
Even though the Bicep2 team have spent three years analyzing the signal to check the validity of the big discovery, it will still have to be confirmed by more observations. Confirmation could come as early as August when the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite, which has been looking for this same signal, will announce its findings.
Here’s a great video from This is Genius explaining the importance of the discovery and how it was made:
More news on the discovery of primordial gravitational waves: