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Cosmic microwave background
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Cosmology safe as universe has no sense of direction

The universe is expanding uniformly according to research led by UCL which reports that space isn't stretching in a preferred direction or spinning.
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Title: Searching for concentric low variance circles in the cosmic microwave background
Author: Adam DeAbreu, Dagoberto Contreras, Douglas Scott

In a recent paper, Gurzadyan & Penrose claim to have found directions in the sky around which there are multiple concentric sets of annuli with anomalously low variance in the cosmic microwave background (CMB). These features are presented as evidence for a particular theory of the pre-Big Bang Universe. We are able to reproduce the analysis these authors presented for data from the WMAP satellite and we confirm the existence of these apparently special directions in the newer Planck data. However, we also find that these features are present at the same level of abundance in simulated Gaussian CMB skies, i.e. they are entirely consistent with the predictions of the standard cosmological model.

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Title: A glimpse of the early universe without real light
Author: Ana Blasco, Luis J. Garay, Mercedes Martin-Benito, Eduardo Martin-Martinez

We analyse the implications of the violations of the strong Huygens principle in the transmission of information from the early universe to the current era via massless fields. We show that much more information reaches us through timelike channels (not mediated by real photons) than it is carried by rays of light, which are usually regarded as the only carriers of information.

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Title: CMB lensing reconstruction using cut sky polarisation maps and pure-B modes
Author: Ruth Pearson, Blake Sherwin, Antony Lewis

Detailed measurements of the CMB lensing signal are an important scientific goal of ongoing ground-based CMB polarization experiments, which are mapping the CMB at high resolution over small patches of the sky. In this work we simulate CMB polarization lensing reconstruction for the EE and EB quadratic estimators with current-generation noise levels and resolution, and show that without boundary effects the known and expected zeroth and first order N(0) and N(1) biases provide an adequate model for non-signal contributions to the lensing power spectrum estimators. Small sky areas present a number of additional challenges for polarization lensing reconstruction, including leakage of E modes into B modes. We show how simple windowed estimators using filtered pure-B modes can greatly reduce the mask-induced mean-field lensing signal and reduce variance in the estimators. This provides a simple method (used with recent observations) that gives an alternative to more optimal but expensive inverse-variance filtering.

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Cosmic inflation: 'Spectacular' discovery hailed

Scientists say they have extraordinary new evidence to support a Big Bang Theory for the origin of the Universe.
Researchers believe they have found the signal left in the sky by the super-rapid expansion of space that must have occurred just fractions of a second after everything came into being.

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First direct evidence of cosmic inflation

Almost 14 billion years ago, the universe we inhabit burst into existence in an extraordinary event that initiated the Big Bang. In the first fleeting fraction of a second, the universe expanded exponentially, stretching far beyond the view of our best telescopes. All this, of course, was just theory. Cardiff physicists are part of an international team that have turned this scientific theory into scientific fact.
Researchers from the BICEP2 collaboration today announced the first direct evidence for this cosmic inflation. Their data also represent the first images of gravitational waves, or ripples in space-time. These waves have been described as the "first tremors of the Big Bang." Finally, the data confirm a deep connection between quantum mechanics and general relativity.

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Title: Cosmology from weak lensing of CMB
Author: Toshiya Namikawa

The weak lensing effect on the cosmic microwave background (CMB) induces distortions in spatial pattern of CMB anisotropies, and statistical properties of CMB anisotropies become a weakly non-Gaussian field. We first summarize the weak lensing effect on the CMB (CMB lensing) in the presence of scalar, vector and tensor perturbations. Then we focus on the lensing effect on CMB statistics and methods to estimate deflection angles and their power spectrum. We end by summarizing recent observational progress and future prospect.

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Title: WMAP 9-year CMB estimation using sparsity
Authors: J. Bobin, F. Sureau, P. Paykari, A. Rassat, S. Basak, J. -L. Starck

Recovering the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) from WMAP data requires galactic foreground emissions to be accurately separated out. Most component separation techniques rely on second order statistics such as Internal Linear Combination (ILC) techniques. In this paper, we present a new WMAP 9-year CMB map, with 15 arcmin resolution, which is reconstructed using a recently introduced sparse component separation technique, coined Local Generalized Morphological Component Analysis (LGMCA). LGMCA emphasises on the sparsity of the components to be retrieved in the wavelet domain. We show that although derived from a radically different separation criterion ({i.e. sparsity), the LGMCA-WMAP 9 map and its power spectrum are fully consistent with their more recent estimates from WMAP 9.

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Planck satellite: Maps detail Universe's ancient light

planck_976.jpg

A map tracing the "oldest light" in the sky has been produced by Europe's Planck Surveyor satellite. Its pattern confirms the Big Bang theory for the origin of the Universe but subtle, unexpected details will require scientists to adjust some of their ideas.
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Title: Excess ellipticity of hot and cold spots in the WMAP data?
Authors: Eirik Berntsen, Frode K. Hansen

We investigate claims of excess ellipticity of hot and cold spots in the WMAP data (Gurzadyan et al. 2005, 2007). Using the cosmic microwave background data from 7 years of observations by the WMAP satellite, we find, contrary to previous claims of a 10 sigma detection of excess ellipticity in the 3-year data, that the ellipticity of hot and cold spots are perfectly consistent with simulated CMB maps based on the concordance cosmology. We further test for excess obliquity and excess skewness/kurtosis of ellipticity and obliquity and find the WMAP7 data consistent with Gaussian simulated maps.

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