How Does WMAP Continue to Produce New Results?

How Does WMAP Continue to Produce New Results?

“Still going….Nothing outlasts the Energizer.” Almost anyone who has watched TV in the last decade is familiar with the Energizer Bunny. The bunny continues to pound away without wearing down. In a similar fashion, NASA’s WMAP Satellite continues to produce results after more than five years in orbit. Those results also provide evidence for RTB’s big bang creation model.

Considering that the satellite completely mapped the sky within the first year in orbit, one might wonder how additional data results in further scientific discoveries. A previous TNRTB described how scientists use the WMAP data to measure cosmological parameters. WMAP’s ability to measure the amount of power in each of the spherical harmonics determines how well it measures relevant cosmological values.

Now compare the skymaps from three…
and five years of WMAP data, respectively.

Notice the increased clarity of the features in the five-year sky map. The additional two years of observations reduce the fluctuations that blur features and also allow the analysts to better remove background noise. The same principle works when conducting surveys. Questioning 2,000 people in the mall gives clearer results compared to using only 1,000 people. Consequently, the multipole power spectrum from the five-year WMAP data shows more detail than the three-year WMAP data as shown below (both plots credited to the NASA/WMAP Science Team).

The improved resolution of the third peak in the spectrum helped scientists determine the energy budget of the universe when the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB, which is the radiation leftover from the creation event) formed 380,000 years after the big bang. As described in a NASA press release (and shown graphically here) the energy components were 12% normal matter, 63% dark matter, 15% neutrinos, and 10% photons. For comparison, the components today are 4.6% normal matter, 23% dark matter, and 72% dark energy.

In all viable big bang models the temperatures and densities during the four minutes after the creation event resulted in a significant amount of hydrogen being fused into helium—which releases neutrinos. Based on the amount of this primordial helium measured today, scientists can predict the density of neutrinos that should have existed when the CMB formed. This prediction matches the value measured by WMAP.

Just like the Energizer Bunny, WMAP keeps going and going. And its results continue to buttress RTB’s biblically based creation model, which incorporates big bang cosmology.

Data Release 5.