Scientists who made headlines last March by announcing that they had found elusive evidence of the rapidly expanding early universe have retracted their claims. The claims were retracted after scientists determined the observations, originally deemed to be from the dawn of the universe, could have come from space dust in our own Milky Way.
The Sacramento Bee reports that the original claims caused a stir in the science community because it “appeared to show evidence that the universe ballooned rapidly a split-second after its birth, in what scientist call cosmic inflation.” The idea had already been widely believed in the science community, but this was the first time that scientists had observable evidence to back-up the claims. Researchers working on a project called BICEP2 at the South Pole claimed to have observed light leftover from the expansion of the early universe.
Sadly, for the scientists in question, the claims were premature. New research suggests that the observations of light presented by the scientists to back up the cosmic inflation theory were actually not from the dawn of the universe but rather reflections of space dust in our own solar system. The Register notes that the breakthrough discovery could not be conclusively supported.
After the research was published, some scientists were skeptical of the evidence to support the early light theory. Scientists as far back as September were questioning the findings and wondered if the light could have been created by space dust in the Milky Way. On Friday, scientists agreed that the “gravitational waves remain elusive,” and the research claims were retracted.
“Joint analysis of data from ESA’s Planck satellite and the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments showed that the origin of the signal had not be detected after all.”
Brian Keating of the University of California, San Diego, a member of the BICEP2 team says the retraction is “disappointing” likening it to finding out there is no Santa Claus. However, he notes that it is important that we “know the truth.” Unfortunately for the BICEP2 team, the truth about the Big Bang was not found during the BICEP2 project.
Though the original findings were retracted, Keating says the search isn’t over. Keating says that the new research will help with the new analysis of data. This time the researchers won’t be fooled by space dust as the new data will help the team “avoid being misled by the galactic dust.”