Simons Observatory Begins Hunt for Echoes of the Big Bang in Universe’s Oldest Light

June 5, 2024

One of the small-aperture telescopes at the Simons Observatory. Brian Keating/UC San Diego

By Thomas Sumner

The hunt is on. From a vantage point high in the Chilean Andes, cosmologists with the Simons Observatory have begun searching for evidence of what happened in the minuscule fraction of a second that followed the Big Bang.

The observatory, which just completed its main construction phase, will make some of the most precise measurements ever taken of the oldest light in the universe. That light, known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB), originated about 380,000 years after the Big Bang and holds secrets of the universe’s birth.

“We’re taking the search for cosmic inflation to a new level,” says Simons Observatory co-director Suzanne Staggs of Princeton University. “Our instrument sensitivity breaks new ground for the field.”

“I am thrilled by how well our instruments are performing,” says Simons Observatory founding member Jeff McMahon of the University of Chicago. “I am even more excited by the scientific data these telescopes are starting to produce.”

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