By analysing their data jointly, the Planck and BICEP2/Keck collaborations have shown that the detection of primordial gravitational waves through the observation of the polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has not occurred yet. This result constitutes the denouement of the scientific drama that kept enthralled cosmologists and universe enthusiasts alike since March 2014: the signal, the detection of which has been reported by the BICEP2 team, is not related to the first instants of the Big Bang. It results from the combination of the Galactic signal and of gravitational distortions of the CMB during its propagation down to us.
Beginning the 1st December at an international conference in Ferrara (Italy), the Planck collaboration, which involves the CNRS, the CEA, the CNES and several French universities among other institutes, reveals the results of four years of observation by the ESA Planck satellite of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the oldest light in the universe. For the first time, the CMB is accurately measured on the whole sky in both its intensity and polarisation.
The Planck consortium has published a statistical analysis of the dust polarization towards the regions of the sky best suited to measure Cosmic Microwave Background polarization. This work shows that dust polarization is significant over all of the sky, and that the signature of cosmic inflation will not be detected unless contamination associated with the dusty and magnetized interstellar medium in the Galaxy is removed with the required accuracy and confidence.
Jean-Loup Puget, Directeur de Recherche at CNRS, working at Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, has received the 2014 Space Science Award of COSPAR (Committee on Space Research). This Award honors a scientist who has made outstanding contributions to space science.
The 2014 edition of the Summer Advanced Undergraduate Student Programme “Rencontres de physique de l’infiniment grand à l’infiniment petit” will be held from the 15 to the 25 July 2014 in Orsay, Palaiseau, Paris and Saclay. This year, we will welcome 26 students from all over France, and their promotion will be named after Frédéric and Irène Joliot-Curie.