Tuesday, April 3, 2012

BOSS, A Nova?

So according to a survey called the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS), one of the things that helped the universe look like it does were incredibly ancient waves of sound called baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO). A couple of explanations of what the survey does can be found here and here.

Not very long after the Big Bang (about 30,000 years afterwards, it seems), matter began to collapse into greater and greater clumps. The collapses set up the BAOs, which moved outward along through space for about 350,000 years, which would have set a Guinness Book of World Records mark for a sustained note, had there been books, records or beings to create and observe them (Of course there was Guinness -- I've got enough Irish in me to understand there's always been Guinness). As they did, they caused the clumps of matter to organize themselves, so to speak, along the waves' peaks and troughs. When the universe cooled enough that the waves no longer formed, the clumps of matter started becoming things like stars, galaxies and eventually us.

The BOSS locates where galaxies are in relationship with each other, and it turns out they are as far apart as one of the mathematical models combining BAOs and dark energy says they should be. More examination of the sky -- astronomers have only surveyed a third of it so far -- should offer a clearer picture of which model is more accurate. The launch of the Euclid satellite in 2019 will allow for even more precision in measuring the galaxies' positions and pare the possibilities down even more.

In spite of the fact that the survey is called BOSS, there is no evidence that the BAO's, had there been people around to hear them, would have been the opening chords to "Born to Run." But there have been hints that the very first BAO's when written chromatically form a mathematical equation that, when assigned corresponding letter values, refers to an unknown agency or being called a "Big Man" and suggests that this Big Man "blow." Scientists are still working out possible meanings.

I completely made that last part up. As far as I know, anyway.


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