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Lunar radio wave detection will offer clues as to the origin of the Universe

A precise determination of the amount of helium is also of great importance as it would probe the ancient period after the Big Bang.

Astrophysicists measured the light for exploding stars called supernovae to arrive at the most precise limits yet for the universe's composition
Astrophysicists measured the light for exploding stars called supernovae to arrive at the most precise limits yet for the universe's composition - Copyright AFP/File Behrouz MEHRI
Astrophysicists measured the light for exploding stars called supernovae to arrive at the most precise limits yet for the universe's composition - Copyright AFP/File Behrouz MEHRI

A new astronomical breakthrough has been reported from Tel Aviv University. This demonstrates how the history and contents of the Universe can be determined using radio telescopes on the moon. Wit this, researchers have predicted the importance of information that can be obtained from lunar-based detection of radio waves.

The researchers note that the period just before the formation of the first stars can be studied by detecting radio waves that were emitted from the hydrogen gas that filled the Universe at that time.

The study’s findings show that the measured radio signals can be used for a novel test of the standard cosmological model. This can aid in the determination of the composition of the Universe as well as the weight of neutrino particles. This is specifically with the amount of hydrogen and of helium within the Universe, since this can be accurately determined.

Hydrogen is the original form of ordinary matter in the Universe, from which formed the stars, planets, and eventually we ourselves.

A precise determination of the amount of helium is also of great importance as it would probe the ancient period, around a minute after the Big Bang, in which helium formed when the entire Universe was essentially a giant nuclear reactor. A large array of lunar antennas could make it possible to measure the weight of cosmic neutrinos.

Furthermore, the research may help scientists gain further clues about the mystery of dark matter. With lunar observations, it may be possible to discover various properties of dark matter. This is a mysterious substance that constitutes most of the matter in the Universe, yet of which scientists know very little about its nature and properties.

These are tiny particles that are emitted in various nuclear reactions; their weight is a critical unknown parameter in developing physics beyond the established standard model of particle physics.

The reason why lunar based observations are important is because the specific waves from the early Universe are blocked by the Earth’s atmosphere. This means they can only be studied from space, particularly the Moon since the lunar environment is free from interference from an atmosphere or from radio communications.

According to lead researcher Professor Rennan Barkana: “Our new research studies an even earlier and more mysterious era: the cosmic dark ages, only 50 million years after the Big Bang. Conditions in the early Universe were quite different from today. The new study combines current knowledge of cosmic history with various options for radio observations, in order to reveal what can be discovered.”

The scientist adds: “Specifically, we computed the intensity of radio waves as determined by the density and temperature of the hydrogen gas at various times, and then showed how the signals can be analysed in order to extract from them the desired results.”

The research appears in the journal Nature Astronomy, titled “Prospects for precision cosmology with the 21 cm signal from the dark ages”.

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Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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