But soon, many had doubts. The rising skepticism was validated this week, with a definitive analysis showing that the swirl pattern detected by the astronomers fits the profile of radiating space dust rather than gravitational waves.
Scientists cross-checked the data, which were gathered by the BICEP2 telescope, pixel-for-pixel against observations by the Planck telescope, which was better attuned to differences between dust and gravitational waves. The analysis confirmed what a previous Planck study suggested: Dust obscuring the patch of the sky probed by BICEP2 generated most if not all of the observed swirl pattern.
The results appeared in a leaked press release Thursday evening intended to accompany a paper that has been submitted for publication in Physical Review Letters.
So where, one might ask, does the new analysis leave the theory of cosmic inflation?"
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