Arno Allan Penzias discovered the cosmic microwave background. In Big Bang cosmology, the cosmic microwave background (CMB, CMBR) is electromagnetic radiation, a relic from the early cosmos known as “relic radiation.”
The CMB is the weak cosmic background radiation that permeates the universe. It is a vital source of information on the early cosmos since it is the universe’s earliest electromagnetic radiation, dating back to the recombination era.
The region between stars and galaxies (the background) is entirely black when viewed through a conventional optical telescope. However, a radio telescope with appropriate sensitivity reveals a faint background noise or light essentially isotropic and unrelated to any star, galaxy, or another object.
This light is most prominent in the radio spectrum’s microwave range. The unexpected discovery of the CMB in 1965 by American radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson was the conclusion of work begun in the 1940s. It resulted in the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discoverers.
Arno Allan Penzias
Arno Allan Penzias
Born on April 26, 1933, Arno Allan Penzias are an American physicist, radio astronomer, and winner of the Nobel Prize in physics.
Along with Robert Woodrow Wilson, he helped establish the Big Bang hypothesis of cosmology by discovering the cosmic microwave background radiation.
Penzias went on to work at Bell Labs in Holmdel, New Jersey, where he developed ultra-sensitive cryogenic microwave receivers for radio astronomy investigations alongside Robert Woodrow Wilson. In 1964, while constructing their most sensitive antenna/receiver system, the couple experienced unexplainable radio noise.
It was far less powerful than the radiation emitted by the Milky Way, and it was isotropic; therefore, they concluded that their equipment was susceptible to interference from terrestrial sources.
They attempted and then disproved the theory that the radio noise originated in New York City. Examining the microwave horn antenna revealed that it was covered with bat and pigeon droppings (which Penzias described as “white dielectric material”).
After the removal of the dung accumulation, the noise remained. Penzias called Robert Dicke, who suggested it may be the background radiation anticipated by some cosmological theories after he had eliminated all potential sources of interference.
Penzias and Wilson agreed with Dicke to submit side-by-side articles in the Astrophysical Journal, with Penzias and Wilson detailing their observations and Dicke proposing the interpretation as the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB), the radio leftover from the Big Bang.
Astronomers were then able to validate the Big Bang and correct many of their earlier ideas.
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