WMAP reveals age of the universe among other things
NASA’S Wilkinson Microwavie Anisotropy Probe, or WMAP, has completed its satellite operations after nine years of scanning the sky.
Astronomers determine properties of the universe by fitting the WMAP data with models. Values for when the first stars appear, the amount of dark matter, the age of the universe etc. are adjusted in the model until the resulting background matches the WMAP observations. The model that best fits the data gives an age for the universe of 13.7 ± 0.2 billion years.
As such, Guinness Book of records has WMAP as the most accurate measure of the age of the universe with a one percent degree of error.
"WMAP gave definitive measurements of the fundamental parameters of the universe," said Jaya Bapayee, WMAP program executive at NASA Headquarters in Washington. "Scientists will use this information for years to come in their quest to better understand the universe."
Launched as MAP on June 30, 2001, the spacecraft was later renamed WMAP to honor David T. Wilkinson, a Princeton University cosmologist and a founding team member who died in September 2002.
Other interesting subjects WMAP has revealed are as follows:
- Normal atoms make up only 4.6 percent of today’s cosmos;
- Most of the universe consist of two entities.
- These are the dark matter which makes up 23 percent of the universe;
- And 72 percent fills up with the dark energy, a gravitationally repulsive entity which may be a feature of the vacuum itself.
- Affirmation that cosmic inflation happens within the first trillionth of a second. The expansion of the universe was discovered by Edwin Hubble in 1920.