Friday, February 23, 2024

Telescope in Antarctica, helping to decipher the Earth’s after-glow, confirms the basics of Einstein’s theory

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At the South Polar Station Amundsen-Scott, located in Antarctica, operates the 10-meter radiotelescope SPT (South Pole Telescope), designed to study the mysterious hole of microwave light in the Universe, left after the Big Explosion. The main goal of this cosmic instrument — to decipher «Echo» the most large-scale event in the history of the universe and to confirm or refute its fundamental principles, including the basis of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.

Telescope SPT. Source: Eli Duke / Flickr / CC BY 2.0 DEED

During the research, scientists did not discover any facts that would violate the foundations of physics, which means that Einstein’s theory remains strong. The data obtained on lensing – the process of distortion of light on the way of its propagation through space, agree well with the predictions made on the basis of the general theory of relativity.

«We came to the conclusion that the regularities of lensing, which were observed and studied within the framework of this research, are in fact the embodiment of the basic principles of the general theory of relativity», — highlighted Charlie Pan, researcher from the Argonne National Laboratory, part of the US Department of Energy. «This circumstance confirms the importance and relevance of our existing idea of ​​gravity at large-scale spatio-temporal levels. In addition, the results obtained strengthen our concept of how the structures of matter are formed in our Universe.

The telescope underwent modernization in 2017, as a result of which the new camera SPT-3G with 16 000 detectors was installed. The main purpose of this camera is to measure the cosmic microwave background (CMB), which is the last emission, important for ultra-detailed study of the early stages of evolution of the Universe.

«The CMB is of great importance for cosmologists», — explained Pan. «The insignificant changes in temperature and polarization of this background open up for us a unique opportunity to penetrate into the depths of the universe».

At the same time, special attention was paid to gravitational lensing — the phenomenon of distortion of the light stream, caused by the impact of massive objects, such as black holes and giant galaxies, on its path from the source to the observer. This phenomenon is an integral part of Einstein’s general theory of relativity. In the current study, data were analyzed only for the year 2018, but already the researchers discovered that when studying a significant part of the southern sky, the speed of gravitational lensing met predictions made within the framework of the general theory of relativity.

«One of the most exciting moments of this research is that the results obtained are based on data collected during the initial period of work with the camera SPT-3G. And even with this equipment our results are impressive», — noted Amy Bender, physicist from the Argonne National Laboratory. «We also have a five-year stockpile of data, which we are currently working on analyzing, so this is just a harbinger of what lies ahead.»

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