Originally released 10/01/2013
This artist's impression shows how photons from the early universe are deflected by the gravitational lensing effect of massive cosmic structures as they travel across the universe. Gravitational lensing creates tiny, additional distortions to the mottled pattern of temperature fluctuations in the ancient light, called the cosmic microwave background. A small fraction of this background is polarized; one component of this polarized light, B-modes, have been given an additional signature by gravitational lensing. This imprint has been found for the first time by combining data from the ground-based South Pole Telescope and the Herschel space observatory.
Herschel is a European Space Agency mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. NASA's Herschel Project Office is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the United States astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.