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The cosmic background radiation is 6 times stronger than expected

The Astronomy Conference in Long Beach continues to generate interesting news, this time about a second cosmic background radiation, in the field of radio, which interferes with 'watching' the first stars

The ARCADE instrument mounted on a balloon, detected the static cosmic radiation (white waves above) in flight in July 2006. The noise is 6 times stronger than expected. Astronomers have no idea why. Photo: NASA
The ARCADE instrument mounted on a balloon, detected the static cosmic radiation (white waves above) in flight in July 2006. The noise is 6 times stronger than expected. Astronomers have no idea why. Photo: NASA

Loud voices scare us. But imagine being surprised by a voice 6 times louder than you expected? An instrument known as ARACADE (Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission) mounted on a balloon was used to search for the heat signals of the first stars formed after the Big Bang. Instead she found radio static filling the sky.

In July 2006, the balloon was launched from the scientific balloon facility in Palestine, Texas, and raised to an altitude of 36 meters, a place where the atmosphere thins out before becoming the vacuum of space. Her mission lasted four hours.

The team, led by Alan Kogot of the Goddard Space Flight Center, said the device detected the radio noise almost immediately. "We calibrated the device, and we saw a large dot on the graph. I said to my friend, 'What the hell is that - it shouldn't have been here'. We spent the next year trying to move the point, but it didn't move."

Detailed analyzes have ruled out that the origin of the radiation is from the first stars, user error or emission from an unidentified galaxy, and the scientists are sure that there are no other radio sources that can be thought of. "The radio sources are quite familiar and they don't even come close to causing the background radiation that was discovered," Kogut said. "New sources, too blind to be revealed directly, should be enormous in number over all the other bodies in the sky."

Dale Picksen from the University of Maryland in College Park, added that to receive the signals they picked up, the radio galaxies "need to be crammed into the universe like sardines." He said and added: "There would be no space left between another galaxy and another."

The signals thought to come from the protostars hide behind the detected radio background radiation. These noises interfere with locating the first stars, which were formed about 13 billion years ago - not long in cosmic terms after the Big Bang, but these static noises can provide important clues to the evolution of galaxies when the universe was less than half its current age. Deciphering the origin of the head may provide new insight into the evolution of radio sources in the early universe.

"These are the things that make science exciting," said Michael Seifert, a staff member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California. "You go on a trajectory to measure something else - in this case the heat of the first stars - but arrive at something completely different, something untold.

ARCADE is cooled to 2.7 degrees Kelvin using over 2,000 liters of liquid helium. Each of the seven instruments on ARCAD watch the sky or calibrate targets alternately. School students also participated in the project. ARCADE is the first instrument to measure the sky in the radio field with great precision to discover the mysterious signals.

This is the same temperature at which the cosmic background radiation is absorbed. This radiation, which is the remnants of the radiation from the Big Bang, was discovered as raka noise on the radio in 1965. "If ARCADE is calibrated to the same temperature as the microwave background radiation, then the heat of the device cannot contaminate the cosmic signal" explains Kogot.

"We don't know what the detected signal is," Seifert said. "We rely on our colleagues to explore the data and develop theories." added

For the news in Universe Today

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