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Nancy Neal
NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC
(Phone: 202/358-2369)

Bill Steigerwald
Goddard Space Flight Center Greenbelt, Md.
(Phone: 301/286-5017)

MAP Glossary (PDF File)

MAP Primer (PDF File)

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For more press images visit the MAP web site by clicking here.


Viewable Images

Caption for Image 1: FULL-SKY MAP

Full-sky map of the oldest light in the universe: a "baby picture" of the universe. Colors indicate "warmer" (red) and "cooler" (blue) spots. The oval shape is a projection to display the whole sky; similar to the way the globe of the earth can be represented as an oval. Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

High resolution of Image 1 (white background) (14.8 MB)

High resolution of Image 1 (black background) (14.8 MB)

Caption for Image/animation 2: COBE-WMAP COMPARISON

All-sky images of the infant Universe, 380,000 years after the Big Bang, over 13 billion years ago. In 1992, NASA's COBE mission first detected patterns in the oldest light in the universe (shown as color variations). WMAP brings the COBE picture into sharp focus.The features are consistent and 35 times more detailed than COBE's.

(bottom) The new, detailed image provides firm answers to age-old questions. Note: The animation is 6.32 MB. Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

High resolution of Image 2 (white background (6.03 MB)

High resolution of Image 2 (black background) (6.03 MB)

Caption for Image 3: COSMIC HISTORY

WMAP observers the first light of the universe- the afterglow of the Big Bang. This light emerged 380,000 years after the Big Bang. Patterns imprinted on this light encode the events that happened only a tiny fraction of a second after the Big Bang. In turn, the patterns are the seeds of the development of the structures of galaxies we now see billions of years after the Big Bang.
Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

High resolution of Image 3 (1.05 MB)

Caption for Image 4: WMAP SPACECRAFT (Artist's conception)

The composite/aluminum spacecraft is 150 inches (3.8 meters) high by 198 inches (5 meters) wide. WMAP weighs 1,850 pounds (840 kilograms) and is supplied with 419 Watts of power. The spcacecraft is in orbit around L2 (Lagrange Point 2) a million miles from Earth. Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

High resolution of Image 4 (3.01 MB)

Caption for Image 5: WMAP AT L2
(Artist's Conception)


The spcacecraft in orbit at L2 (Lagrange Point 2) a million miles from Earth. The Sun, Earth and Moon are seen in the background. Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

High resolution of Image 5 (10.0 MB)

Caption for Image/animation 6: EVOLUTION

This animation shows how the structure of the universe evolved from WMAP's "baby picture" of the Big Bang. Matter clumps under the force of gravity, then the first stars ignite, and finally the structures of galaxies form. Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team /WMAP Science Team

Caption for Image/animation 7: FINGERPRINTS

The pattern WMAP observed is like a fingerprint. Each theory of the Universe makes a specific prediction about the shape and intensity of the microwave patterns. Like a detective, the WMAP team compared the unique "fingerprint" of patterns imprinted on this ancient light with fingerprints predicted by various cosmic theories and found a match. Credit: NASA/WMAP Science Team

 

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February 11, 2003 - (date of web publication)

NEW IMAGE OF INFANT UNIVERSE REVEALS ERA OF FIRST STARS, AGE OF COSMOS, AND MORE

 

New full sky image courtesy of WMAP

Image 1

 

NASA today released the best “baby picture” of the Universe ever taken, which contains such stunning detail that it may be one of the most important scientific results of recent years.

The new cosmic portrait -- capturing the afterglow of the Big Bang, called the cosmic microwave background -- was captured by scientists using NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) during a sweeping 12-month observation of the entire sky.

 

comparison image between the findings of COBE and WMAP

Image/animation 2

Click here to get the animation of the morph from COBE's findings to WMAP's. Note: 6.32 MB

"We've captured the infant Universe in sharp focus, and from this portrait we can now describe the Universe with unprecedented accuracy," said Dr. Charles L. Bennett of the Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt Md., and the WMAP Principal Investigator. "The data are solid, a real gold mine."

One of the biggest surprises revealed in the data is that the first generation of stars to shine in the Universe first ignited only 200 million years after the Big Bang, much earlier than many scientists had expected.

In addition, the new portrait precisely pegs the age of the Universe at 13.7 billion years old, with a remarkably small one percent margin of error.

 

Image 3

 

The WMAP team found that the Big Bang and Inflation theories continue to ring true. The contents of the Universe include 4% atoms (ordinary matter), 23% of an unknown type of dark matter, and 73% of a mysterious dark energy. The new measurements even shed light on the nature of the dark energy, which acts as a sort of an anti-gravity.

"These numbers represent a milestone in how we view our Universe," said Dr. Anne Kinney, NASA director for astronomy and physics. "This is a true turning point for cosmology."

 

Image 4

 

The light we see today as the cosmic microwave background has traveled over 13 billion years to reach us. Within this light are infinitesimal patterns that mark the seeds of what later grew into clusters of galaxies and the vast structure we see all around us.

Patterns in the Big Bang afterglow were frozen in place only 380,000 years after the Big Bang, a number nailed down by this latest observation. These patterns are tiny temperature differences within this extraordinarily evenly dispersed microwave light bathing the Universe, which now averages a frigid 2.73 degrees above absolute zero temperature. WMAP resolves slight temperature fluctuations, which vary by only millionths of a degree.

 

Image 5

 

Theories about the evolution of the Universe make specific predictions about the extent of these temperature patterns. Like a detective, the WMAP team compared the unique "fingerprint" of patterns imprinted on this ancient light with fingerprints predicted by various cosmic theories and found a match.

WMAP will continue to observe the cosmic microwave background for an additional three years, and its data will reveal new insights into the theory of Inflation and the nature of the dark energy.

 

 

Image/animation 6

Click on image to play animation. Note: 5 MB

"This is a beginning of a new stage in our study of the early Universe," said WMAP team member Prof. David N. Spergel of Princeton University, N.J. "We can use this portrait not only to predict the properties of the nearby universe, but can also use it to understand the first moments of the Big Bang."

WMAP is named in honor of David Wilkinson of Princeton University, a world-renown cosmologist and WMAP team member who died in September 2002.

Launched on June 30, 2001, WMAP maintains a distant orbit about the second Lagrange Point, or "L2," a million miles from Earth.

 

Image/animation 7

Click on image to play animation. Note: 2.07 MB

WMAP is the result of a partnership between the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center and Princeton University. Additional Science Team members are located at Brown University, Providence R.I., the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, BC, the University of Chicago, and the University of California, Los Angeles. WMAP is part of the Explorer program, managed by NASA Goddard.

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