PAPER antennas collecting Big Bang remnants
The Barenaked Ladies describe it best in ﾓThe Big Bang Theoryﾔ television showﾒs theme song: ﾓOur whole universe was in a hot, dense state, then nearly 14 billion years ago expansion started.ﾔ
Remnants from The Big Bang are still traveling through space, and with the use of small antennas placed at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in Green Bank, scientists from the Radio Astronomy Laboratory of the University of California, Berkeley, are trying to collect information from the remnants.
ﾓWhen The Big Bang occurred, in that sort of milli-second explosion of energy, immediately after that, the most minor element, atoms, started to re-ionize and create the elements we know,ﾔ NRAO business manager Mike Holstine said.
As the atoms re-ionized, they created the elements, beginning with Hydrogen, Helium, and so on. The antennas are attempting to detect that re-ionizing action.
The PAPER (Precision Array to Probe for the Epoch of Re-ionization) project, consisting of between 60 and 70 six-foot square antennas, is being tested at the NRAO because of the safety offered by the National Radio Quiet Zone.
ﾓBecause of the vast distance that they are taking about ﾖ youﾒre looking at 13.2 billion years ago or 14 billions years ago ﾖﾠitﾒs extremely weak and itﾒs extremely low frequency,ﾔ Holstine said.
The scientists have collected data from the remnants that will help them perfect the array.
The project, which has been operating in Green Bank for three years, is a prototype for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project in South Africa. The antennas for the SKA are in production in the machine shop at the NRAO. As they are finished, they are shipped to South Africa for placement.