Science News
from research organizations

New technique for isolating sunlight scattering could help illuminate Universe's birth

Date:
May 28, 2015
Source:
University of British Columbia
Summary:
Astrophysicists have developed a new method for calculating the effect of Rayleigh scattering on photons, potentially allowing researchers to better understand the formation of the Universe.
Share:
FULL STORY

By using different high-frequency channels to observe the CMB and combining this information, researchers may be able to better isolate the Rayleigh signal.
Credit: UBC Science

Astrophysicists have developed a new method for calculating the effect of Rayleigh scattering on photons, potentially allowing researchers to better understand the formation of the Universe.

UBC theoretical cosmology graduate student Elham Alipour, UBC physicist Kris Sigurdson and Ohio State University astrophysicist Christopher Hirata probed the effect of Rayleigh scattering -- the process that makes the sky appear blue when the Sun's photons are scattered by molecules in the atmosphere -- on the cosmic microwave background (CMB).

The CMB is the oldest light in the universe, which originated when electrons combined with protons to form the first atoms. These primordial atoms were also the first to Rayleigh scatter light.

"Detecting the Rayleigh signal is challenging because the frequency range where Rayleigh scattering has the biggest effect is contaminated by 'noise' and foregrounds, such as galactic dust," lead author Elham Alipour said.

By using different high-frequency channels to observe the CMB and combining this information, researchers may be able to better isolate the Rayleigh signal. This calculation of the effects of Rayleigh scattering on cosmology might help us better understand the formation of our Universe 13.6 billion years ago.

"The CMB sky is a snapshot of the early Universe, it is a single frame in the movie of the Universe, and we have shown that Rayleigh signal gives us another fainter snapshot of the same scene at a slightly different time," co-author Kris Sigurdson explained.


Story Source:

Materials provided by University of British Columbia. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Elham Alipour, Kris Sigurdson, Christopher M. Hirata. Effects of Rayleigh scattering on the CMB and cosmic structure. Physical Review D, 2015; 91 (8) DOI: 10.1103/PhysRevD.91.083520

Cite This Page:

University of British Columbia. "New technique for isolating sunlight scattering could help illuminate Universe's birth." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 May 2015. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150528124517.htm>.
University of British Columbia. (2015, May 28). New technique for isolating sunlight scattering could help illuminate Universe's birth. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 24, 2017 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150528124517.htm
University of British Columbia. "New technique for isolating sunlight scattering could help illuminate Universe's birth." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/05/150528124517.htm (accessed May 24, 2017).

RELATED STORIES