KIPAC researchers are heavily focused on understanding the origin of the early universe, a period in which very different rules of physics were at play in the cosmos than those that govern it now. It is believed that the universe began with very high energies. To tease apart the forces that touched off the universe’s expansion – some 14 billion years ago -- KIPAC scientists are using an array of instruments such as telescopes and satellites to look as far away and as far back in time as possible.
Among the most important observational tools in KIPAC’s exploration of the early universe are instruments that measure irregularities in the Cosmic Microwave Background radiation, such as the WMAP and Planck satellites. By looking at the distribution of the irregularities in the Cosmic Microwave Background, for example, KIPAC researchers are attempting to reconstruct the quantum conditions of the early universe and understand the laws governing its dynamics at the beginning. By looking back, scientists may also deduce the existence of new particles, forces or dimensions in existence during the universe’s first moments and, in turn, gain a more comprehensive understanding of the laws of the present universe.