Topic of the Day - Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR)

UPSC Exam Preparation: Topic of the Day – Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR)

Current topics in science and technology especially in space science are important for the IAS exam. IAS aspirants must go through these topics as part of their UPSC preparation as it can help them score valuable marks in prelims and mains exam.

The cosmic microwave background (CMB, CMBR) is electromagnetic radiation as a remnant from an early stage of the universe in Big Bang cosmology. In older literature, the CMB is also variously known as cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) or “relic radiation”. The CMB is a faint cosmic background radiation filling all space that is an important source of data on the early universe because it is the oldest electromagnetic radiation in the universe. It was first discovered in 1964.

  • It is an all-pervasive, but weak, electromagnetic radiation from the early universe, about 3,80,000 years after the Big Bang when matter was still to be formed.
  • This radiation does not emanate from any of the objects that are seen in the universe, like stars or galaxies but from a time when matter and radiation were in thermodynamic equilibrium.
  • The spectrum produced by CMBR is very smooth. But it contains small wiggles or deformities, in its shape. Each of these wiggles has valuable information encoded about particular events that occurred as the first stars were born.
  • CMB signals are so faint, and so pervasive is the interference from modern technology that there is a proposal to set up CMB observation experiments on the other side of the moon.

Scientists from the Raman Research Institute (RRI) in Bengaluru have conducted an experiment for detection of Cosmic Microwave back ground radiation in a place called Timbaktu in Andhra Pradesh. Timbaktu is chosen as it is described as Radio Quiet — an area where there is virtually no interference from signals produced by modern technology like mobile, TV etc. which makes it most suitable place to detect even faint electromagnetic signals from the sky. The experiment by Raman Research Institute can profoundly change the understanding of the early universe, specifically of events leading up to the formation of the first stars.


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