(ORDO NEWS) — Although the inflationary model of the early development of the Universe immediately after the Big Bang is generally accepted, it is still not ideal and suffers from justified criticism and the lack of direct evidence, and therefore remains only in the status of a scientific hypothesis.
Previously, astrophysicists have proposed a way to confirm the validity of this model. Now scientists are confident that the proposed criterion, on the contrary, should refute the theory of inflation once and for all.
The inflationary model describes the evolution of the Universe in the first fraction of a second after the Big Bang. More specifically, it suggests that during the inflationary era, the universe expanded extremely rapidly (exponentially).
This era did not last long: it began somewhere between 10 -40 – 10 -36 seconds, and ended 10 -33 – 10 -32 seconds after the Big Bang.
However, in such a short time, the volume of the Universe managed to increase by at least 10 78 times – as if a human erythrocyte in a matter of moments “swelled up” to the size of a galaxy. After the end of the inflationary period, the universe continued to expand, but at a slower pace.
“Inflation theory has been put forward to explain the various fine-tuning problems of the so-called hot big bang model,” said lead author Sunny Vagnozzi of the Kavli Institute of Cosmology in Cambridge and the University of Trento.
“It also explains the origin of the structure in our universe, formed as a result of quantum fluctuations.”
The predictions of the inflationary model are in excellent agreement with the observational data of the cosmic microwave background radiation and the large-scale structure of the Universe, which is usually considered as a sign of the success of the hypothesis and indirect confirmation of its reliability.
Despite this, opponents of the theory of inflation have a number of questions, the main of which, perhaps, was the question of falsifiability (in other words, scientific character) of the inflationary paradigm as a whole.
The problem is that, in fact, there are several inflationary models whose predictions can be relatively easily “fitted” to the available observational data with a little refinement of the model.
The goal of a new theoretical study by a duo of astrophysicists from Cambridge and Harvard Universities was to create such a criterion that could refute not individual inflationary models, but the inflation paradigm as a whole.
As such a criterion, scientists unexpectedly proposed the observation of the cosmic graviton background (CGF) – a phenomenon similar to the cosmic microwave background, but for gravitons hypothetical elementary particles, carriers of gravitational interaction.
Previously, it was proposed to use the KGF observation just the opposite, for another confirmation of inflationary models.
According to the authors of the work, the separation of primary gravitons in the area of Planck time (about 10 -44 – 10 -43 seconds after the Big Bang) should leave behind a thermal background of relict gravitons.
The essence of this background is similar to relic photons and neutrinos – the first freely propagating particles that appeared at the moment when the Universe became transparent to them.
However, if the inflationary paradigm is correct, then inflation would dilute the QGF, making it unobservable.
Therefore, with a confident detection of CGF, taking into account the development of detection methods, all models of inflation can be canceled en masse.
The authors of the study argue that such a test is theoretically possible, and CGF may be discovered in the future.
However, this requires huge progress in the technology of creating gyrotrons (electrovacuum microwave generators) and superconducting magnets to improve the accuracy of detection devices.
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