Monday, November 19, 2007

Smudges on the Glass for Clouds in the Sky

One of the most important theories in Astronomy developed in the past 15 years -- one that won a Nobel Prize -- could be toppled by just a simple analogy: Like Smudges on the Glass.
A recent article on Wired tells about how a lone Astronomer named Gerrit Verschuur, challenges a theory of how galaxies grew from packets or "seeds" of hydrogen in the very early universe. NASA scientists led by George Smoot announced in 1992 that their CoBE satellite had imaged the ultimate baby pictures of the universe, revealing the seeds. Like acorns growing into oak trees, they theorized, those seeds grew into galaxies like the Milky Way.
However, Verschuur's research asserts that the seeds are not located on the edge of the universe at all. Rather, he says, the so-called seeds are just previously unmapped clouds of "neutral hydrogen" gas located inside the Milky Way. In other words, astronomers who mistook the "seeds" for objects on the edge of the universe are like someone who looks outdoors through a window and mistakes smudges on the glass for clouds in the sky.

No comments: