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article imageCosmic Background Radio Waves Mystery

By Tim Neale     Feb 5, 2009 in Science
Scientists from NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center have discovered an unexpected cosmic background radio noise. The team led by Alan Kogut, have been examining data from a balloon-borne instrument named ARCADE.
ARCADE stands for the Absolute Radiometer for Cosmology, Astrophysics, and Diffuse Emission. It was launched in July 2006 and flew to the edge of the Earth's atmosphere. Here it searched for signs of the first stars formed about 13 billion years ago. It found a cosmic puzzle.
"The universe really threw us a curve," Kogut says. "Instead of the faint signal we hoped to find, here was this booming noise six times louder than anyone had predicted.” The source of this noise is unknown.
"This is what makes science so exciting," says Michael Seiffert, a team member at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "You start out on a path to measure something, in this case, the heat from the very first stars, but run into something else entirely, something unexplained."
ARCADE viewed about 7 percent of the sky. The observed region is coloured on the all-sky radio map showed on the left. The plane of our galaxy runs across the centre.
More about Arcade, NASA, Radio waves
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