Interferometer Maps Cosmic Microwaves on the Cheap

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Science  29 Mar 1996:
Vol. 271, Issue 5257, pp. 1809
DOI: 10.1126/science.271.5257.1809


Cambridge, U.K.—With a relatively cheap prototype ground-based telescope, a British team has created an image of the cosmic microwave background—the faint echo of the big bang—that is many times sharper than those obtained from balloons and satellites. The secret of the instrument's sharp vision is interferometry: combining the signals from separate antennas into a single image. And while the image is largely a proof of principle, it is tantalizing astronomers by showing hot spots—peaks in the density of the primordial universe—that may mark the origins of present-day galaxy clusters.