A Cosmic Microwave Background Feature Consistent with a Cosmic Texture

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Science  07 Dec 2007:
Vol. 318, Issue 5856, pp. 1612-1614
DOI: 10.1126/science.1148694

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The Cosmic Microwave Background provides our most ancient image of the universe and our best tool for studying its early evolution. Theories of high-energy physics predict the formation of various types of topological defects in the very early universe, including cosmic texture, which would generate hot and cold spots in the Cosmic Microwave Background. We show through a Bayesian statistical analysis that the most prominent 5°-radius cold spot observed in all-sky images, which is otherwise hard to explain, is compatible with having being caused by a texture. From this model, we constrain the fundamental symmetry-breaking energy scale to be ϕ0 ≈ 8.7 × 1015 gigaelectron volts. If confirmed, this detection of a cosmic defect will probe physics at energies exceeding any conceivable terrestrial experiment.

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