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Study detecting ripples from Big Bang faces more criticism

Few months ago a group of astronomers called Bicep had announced that they had detected ripples in the sky, which were gravitational waves that were the opening notes of the Big Bang.

The finding was lauded by many and dubbed as the greatest discovery of this century. But some astronomers refused to accept the discovery as it is and claimed that the group did not estimate correctly the extent to which interstellar dust could have contaminated the results. It is expected that the group would concede this possibility in its official report in June.

A recent report by astronomers using data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite has also said the same thing, concluding that there was enough dust in Bicep's view of the sky to produce the swirly patterns without recourse to primordial gravitational waves.

In March, the Bicep team had claimed that waves from the start of the Big Bang was detected by its South Pole telescope but the group said last week that the Milky Way dust may have skewed the findings.

"We show that even in the faintest dust-emitting regions there are no 'clean' windows in the sky," the Planck collaboration, led by Jean-Loup Puget of the Astrophysical Institute in Paris, wrote in a paper submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics and posted online Monday.

As a result, the Bicep crew cannot ignore dust in their calculations. "However," said Jonathan Aumont, another of the Planck authors, also from the Paris institute, "our work does not imply that they did not measure at all a cosmological signal. Moreover, due to the very different observation techniques and signal processing in the Bicep2 and Planck experiments, we cannot say how much of the signal they measured is due to dust and how much to gravitational waves."