Doubts Shroud Big Bang Discovery

A reconstruction of the contaminated foreground map BICEP used (top) and the corrected map.

A reconstruction of the contaminated foreground map BICEP used (top) and the corrected map.

Raphael Flauger/Institute for Advanced Study

Two months ago, a team of cosmologists reported that it had spotted the first direct evidence that the newborn universe underwent a mind-boggling exponential growth spurt known as inflation. But a new analysis suggests the signal, a subtle pattern in the afterglow of the big bang, or cosmic microwave background, could be an artifact produced by dust within our own galaxy.

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