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A map tracing the "oldest light" in the sky has been produced by Europe's Planck Surveyor satellite. Its pattern confirms the Big Bang theory for the origin of the Universe but subtle, unexpected details will require scientists to adjust some of their ideas.
It seems there is slightly more matter out there (31.7%) and slightly less "dark energy" (68.3%), the mysterious component thought to be driving the cosmos apart at an accelerating rate.
A third significant anomaly is a cold spot in the map, centred on the constellation Eridanus, which is much bigger than would be predicted. These features have been hinted at before by Planck's most recent predecessor - Nasa's WMAP satellite - but are now seen with greater clarity and their significance cemented. A consequence will be the binning of many ideas for how inflation propagated, as the process was first introduced in the 1980s as a way to iron out such phenomena. The fact that these delicate features are real will force theorists to finesse their inflationary solutions and possibly even lead them to some novel physics on the way.