Scientists Confirm A Cosmic Defect Theory Proposed In the 1990s

Author:  Kost Jeffery
Institution:  Physics/Mathematics
Date:  November 2007

More than a decade ago, Professor Neil Turok of the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University, proposed that a certain cosmic defect,called a texture,could be observed from the hot and cold spots they create in cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB). The significance of these textures lies in the fact that they are remnants of symmetrical imperfections in matter, although on extremely small scales, dating all the way back to the Big Bang. Now, using modernized methods, observational backing of this theory is beginning to surface.

According to the Big Bang theory, the universe began as one extremely dense and hot point in space, and on the quantum (i.e. extremely small) level all particles appeared to function similarly. Then as the matter began to expand and cool, the very small parts began to act differently, becoming what we now know as all the different elementary particles. There is a symmetry associated with these particles, and textures are examples of where this symmetry was defected along this timeline.

A cold spot of the CMB radiation discovered around the South Galactic Hemisphere in 2004 showed what had the potential to be one of these textures. Many types of other possibilities to describe the existence of this cold spot were exhausted, such as systematic problems or foreground contamination from our own galaxy. None of these other possibilities could provide a convincing conclusion for the cold spots; the existence of the proposed texture came into a realistic realm.

Professor Turok, the original theorist on textures states, "The possibility that this is a texture is very exciting. If it is, it will revolutionize our understanding of how the fundamental symmetries between the particles and forces were broken as the universe emerged from the big bang. The current data is suggestive but not yet compelling. There are a number of follow-up tests which can be made with future data. It's a very testable hypothesis and we will know the answer within the next decade." Let us hope that Professor Turok is correct, and that future observations confirm the hypothesis set forth.

Written by: Jeffrey Kost

Reviewed by: HoiSee Tsao and Shilpa Gowda.

Published by: Konrad Sawicki