Spectrum and Isotropy of the Submillimeter Background Radiation

  • Dirk Muehlner
Conference paper
Part of the Astrophysics and Space Science Library book series (ASSL, volume 63)


Two great astronomical discoveries have most shaped our present concept of the Big Bang universe. Like the Hubble recession of the galaxies, the discovery of the 3°K background radiation by Penzias and Wilson [1] in 1965 has given rise to a line of research which is still very active today. Penzias and Wilson’s universal microwave background at 7 cm was immediately interpreted by R. H. Dicke’s group [2] at Princeton as coming from the primordial fireball of incandescent plasma which filled the universe for the million years or so after its explosive birth. This interpretation gives rise to two crucial predictions as to the nature of the background radiation. Its spectrum should be thermal even after having been red shifted by a factor of ~1000 by the expansion of the universe, and the radiation should be isotropic-assuming that the universe itself is isotropic. If the background radiation is indeed from the primordial fireball, it affords us our only direct view at the very young universe. This paper will deal with the spectrum and then the isotropy of the background radiation, with emphasis on high frequency or submillimeter measurements. Prospects for the future will be discussed briefly at the end.


Background Radiation Black Body Background Spectrum Cosmic Background Balloon Flight 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing, Dordrecht-Holland 1977

Authors and Affiliations

  • Dirk Muehlner
    • 1
  1. 1.Physics Department and Research Laboratory of ElectronicsMassachusetts Institute of TechnologyCambridgeUSA

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