A new study of the data from both space and ground-based telescopes states that gravitational waves from the birth of the universe still remain elusive as there is no conclusive evidence of their existence. The new findings deny earlier reports of a possible detection of the primordial phenomena.
Last year, some researchers had used a telescope at the South Pole, namely the BICEP2 telescope, which studied a small patch of sky in detail above the South Pole. They thought they had discovered primordial gravitational waves. This was a very big deal. They described it as an event which was similar to the first slivers of a second after the big bang.
However, researchers, who used the data from European Space Agency’s (ESA) Planck satellite and the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments, have now stated that the possible signal from the early universe detected by BICEP2/Keck last year was caused not by ancient gravitational waves, but by obscuring dust in the Milky Way galaxy. The signal was spotted in the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is the remnant of ancient radiation from the Big Bang that occurred about 13.8 billion years ago.
ESA released a statement: “The BICEP2 team presented evidence favoring the interpretation that this signal originated in primordial gravitational waves. However, there is another contender in this game that can produce a similar effect: interstellar dust in our Galaxy, the Milky Way.”
The dust in the Milky Way that emits near-infrared light and has the same characteristics as the microwave background appeared to have confused the scientists’ observation.
“It turns out that the fraction due to dust had been significantly underestimated. Once the fraction [of the signal] due to galactic [dust] emissions has been correctly subtracted, an excess remains, but at present it is too weak to be considered detection,” stated the research team.