Final cosmology results from the WMAP satellite

24 December 2012

Since its launch in 2001, the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) satellite has given us a new view of the universe, establishing a cosmological model that explains a wide range of astronomical observations. The WMAP science team, led by Charles Bennett at Johns Hopkins University and including Oxford lecturer Jo Dunkley, released the final nine-year results on 20 December 2012 in papers submitted to the Astrophysical Journal. They determine, to high accuracy and precision, the age of the universe, the density of atoms; the density of all other non-atomic matter including Dark Energy and Dark Matter; the epoch when the first stars started to shine; the “lumpiness” of the universe, and how that “lumpiness” depends on scale size. WMAP’s precision measurement of the properties of the fluctuations has confirmed specific predictions of the simplest version of inflation. WMAP launched on 30 June, 2001 and observed the sky from the “second Lagrange point” of the Earth-Sun system, a million miles from Earth. The first results were issued in February 2003, with major updates in 2006, 2008, 2010, and now this final release.