Researchers have discovered the first direct evidence of cosmic inflation, the theory that in a fraction of a second after the Big Bang, the universe expanded exponentially, spreading out faster than the speed of light.
The theory addresses some puzzling questions about the universe, including how it expanded so uniformly and why the temperature is relatively even across vast amounts of space.
The BICEP2 telescope set up at the South Pole detected ripples in space-time that appear to be the “first tremors of the Big Bang,” nearly 14 billion years ago, lending weight to the inflation theory.
Harvard’s Avi Loeb put it all in perspective: “This work offers new insights into some of our most basic questions: Why do we exist? How did the universe begin? These results are not only a smoking gun for inflation, they also tell us when inflation took place and how powerful the process was.”
The team included researchers from Harvard, Stanford, the University of Minnesota, Caltech and the NASA Jet Propulsion Lab, among other institutions.
This article originally appeared on Recode.net.