This animation begins by showing the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMBR) data taken by the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite. Basically, it shows the light coming from the background sky with features like the sun, Milky Way, etc. removed. This early data is shown transitioning into more precise data taken later by the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP). These images show a temperature range of 200 microKelvin about the mean temperature. This means that the background radiation is very close to the same energy everywhere.
This animation begins by showing the WMAP spacecraft imaging the background radiation in the universe. Then it zooms out to view our place in the cosmos, traveling further and further back in time, past the quasar epoch to an early time when the universe was made of superheated gas. The gas contains condensed and rarefied ripples, like sound waves. The configuration signature of this early state of the universe is still observable in the rippling of the present-day cosmic microwave background radiation.
This simulation illustrates how the signature of the fluid and the energy present can be captured in the ripples, similar to the signature of the state of the early universe captured in the ripples of the cosmic microwave background radiation.
This animation illustrates how the structure of the universe evolved from the early ripples, affecting the clumping and ignition of matter, evolving to the features we see in the universe today.
The relative size of the ripples in the cosmic microwave background radiation can be analyzed to give information about the curvature of the universe.
This animation illustrates where in the electromagnetic spectrum the CMBR is found, compared to other sources like stars and the Milky Way in various wavelengths of light.