Wednesday, March 5, 2008

5th Year WMAP Results Released

For those of you who don't know, WMAP is a satellite taking very precise measurements of the CMB. Lots of cosmological parameters have been determined form it. Physics, like inflationary LambdaCDM models have also been confirmed by it.

Also, to show how big this is, the WMAP's predecessor COBE was responsible for Nobel Prizes. WMAP also has produced the most cited papers in all science since 2003 and the third year results were the Science breakthrough of the year.

Every odd year WMAP has released data. The first and third year data has been previously released and now the 5th year data has been released.

To quote Sean Carroll:
The biggest piece of news isn’t that the results have overturned any foundations, but that the concordance model with dark matter, dark energy, and ordinary matter continues to work. The WMAP folks have produced an elaborate cosmological parameters table that runs the numbers for different sets of assumptions (with and without spatial curvature, running spectral index, etc), and for different sets of data (not just WMAP but also supernovae, lensing, etc). Everything is basically consistent with a flat universe comprised of 72% vacuum energy, 23% dark matter, and 5% ordinary matter. The perturbations are close to scale-free, but still seem to be a little larger on long wavelengths than shorter ones. Probably the most fun result is that there is, for the first time, evidence from the CMB that neutrinos exist! Good to know.

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