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Create Your Own Baby Universe: Here’s How

Saturday, October 29, 2016 2:22
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(Before It's News)

Researchers have created a 3D printed cosmic microwave background – a map of the oldest light in the universe – and provided the files for download.

The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is a glow that the universe has in the microwave range that maps the oldest light in the universe. It was imprinted when the universe first became transparent, instead of an opaque fog of plasma and radiation.

The CMB formed when the universe was only 380,000 years old – very early on in its now 13.8 billion-year history.

The Planck satellite is making ever-more detailed maps of the CMB, which tells astronomers more about the early universe and the formation of structures within it, such as galaxies. However, more detailed maps are increasingly difficult to view and explore.

To address this issue, Dr Dave Clements from the Department of Physics at Imperial, and two final-year undergraduate students in Physics, have created the plans for 3D printing the CMB. A paper describing the process is published today in the European Journal of Physics.

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Dr Clements said: “Presenting the CMB in a truly 3D form, that can be held in the hand and felt rather than viewed, has many potential benefits for teaching and outreach work, and is especially relevant for those with a visual disability.

“Differences in the temperature of the CMB relate to different densities, and it is these that spawned the formation of structure in the universe – including galaxies, galaxy clusters and superclusters.

 
The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380,000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today.
B4INREMOTE-aHR0cHM6Ly8zLmJwLmJsb2dzcG90LmNvbS8td1l0UV95Mnl4YVEvV0JSa1NQV3hMLUkvQUFBQUFBQUJQXzQvWTRWRXhWalJhY1llRHVOTDFQV1RKZl9yb1hPOFdfUG5BQ0xjQi9zNjQwL0lsY185eXJfbW9sbDQwOTYucG5n
 

“Representing these differences as bumps and dips on a spherical surface allows anyone to appreciate the structure of the early universe. For example, the famous ‘CMB cold spot’, an unusually low temperature region in the CMB, can be felt as a small but isolated depression.”
 
The cosmic microwave background (CMB) is the thermal radiation left over from the time of recombination in Big Bang cosmology. In older literature, the CMB is also variously known as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) or “relic radiation”. The CMB is a cosmic background radiation that is fundamental to observational cosmology because it is the oldest light in the universe, dating to the epoch of recombination.
 
With a traditional optical telescope, the space between stars and galaxies (the background) is completely dark.
However, a sufficiently sensitive radio telescope shows a faint background glow, almost isotropic, that is not associated with any star, galaxy, or other object. This glow is strongest in the microwave region of the radio spectrum. The accidental discovery of the CMB in 1964 by American radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson was the culmination of work initiated in the 1940s, and earned the discoverers the 1978 Nobel Prize.

The CMB can be printed from a range of 3D printers, and two files types have been created by the team: one for simple single-colour structures and one that includes the temperature differences represented as colours as well as bumps and dips. The files for both types are free to download.

Contacts and sources:

Imperial College London

Citation: ‘Cosmic Sculpture: A new way to visualise the Cosmic Microwave Background’ by D. L. Clements, S. Sato, and A. Portela Fonseca is published in the European Journal of Physics.

Dr Dave Clements’ latest book: ‘Infrared Astronomy – Seeing the Heat: from William Herschel to the Herschel Space Observatory’ is available now.

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