An international collaboration BICEP2 has discovered traces of gravitational waves which existed during the inflationary phase of the creation of the universe, before any of the particles we know today existed.
Gravitational waves from inflation generate a faint but distinctive twisting pattern in the polarization of the Comsic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR), known as a “curl” or B-mode pattern. For the density fluctuations that generate most of the polarization of the CMBR, this part of the primordial pattern is exactly zero. Shown here is the actual B-mode pattern observed with the BICEP2 telescope, with the line segments showing the polarization from different spots on the sky. The red and blue shading shows the degree of clockwise and anti-clockwise twisting of this B-mode pattern.
One of the leaders of the collaboration, Prof John Kovac of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, said: “This is opening a window on what we believe to be a new regime of physics – the physics of what happened in the first unbelievably tiny fraction of a second in the Universe.”