Modelling the forces that affect cosmic inflation
In physical cosmology, the term 'cosmic inflation' refers to the potential accelerated expansion of space in the early universe. An EU-funded project is using satellite and other ground-based facilities to model cosmological phenomena to further the study of cosmic inflation.
© Sergey Nivens #92182690, 2019 source: stock.adobe.com
Physical cosmology is the study of the largest-scale structures and dynamics of the universe and is concerned with fundamental questions about its origin, configuration, evolution and ultimate fate. The EU-funded RADIOFOREGROUNDS project is supporting cosmologists in their goal of better understanding the physics of cosmic inflation, or a potential accelerated expansion of space in the early universe.
For scientists trying to tackle the question of cosmic inflation, a phenomenon known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB) is of particular interest. This is electromagnetic radiation that remains from an early stage of the universe in Big Bang cosmology. More specifically, the study of temperature variations in the CMB provides a unique insight into the workings of the early universe.
The EU-funded RADIOFOREGROUNDS project is making use of data from the European Space Agencys PLANCK satellite mission to investigate cosmic inflation. It is combining information from the satellite with ground-based observations provided by the Teide Observatorys QUIJOTE project.
In particular, RADIOFOREGROUNDS researchers are interested in finding ways to distinguish pertinent cosmic radiation from various types of interfering signals, to get a clearer picture of conditions in the early universe.
The project is providing state-of-the-art maps and a detailed description of the anomalous microwave emission in the northern sky. It is characterising in detail the synchrotron spectral index and its implications for cosmic-ray electron physics. Researchers are also modelling the large-scale properties of the galactic magnetic field and compiling the most complete multi-frequency catalogue of radio sources, from 10 to 217 GHz, including data on temperature and polarisation.
Combining the output of PLANCK and QUIJOTE, RADIOFOREGROUNDS is providing reference data products that can aid researchers carrying out other sub-orbital experiments and that will be an important asset in the preparation of future space missions.
RADIOFOREGROUNDS is also developing specific software tools for the more efficient exploitation of generated data products, with functionalities going far beyond anything previously available to the cosmology and astrophysics communities .