The Bicep2 station in the South Pole.

(Photo: Courtesy of Bicep2)
Perhaps the scientists had stardust in their eyes -- or, more specifically, their sensors. After announcing in March they'd found evidence of the Big Bang, astronomers are now backpedaling on that claim. 

In March, scientists led by John Kovak of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center asserted that at the very beginning instants of space-time 13.8 billion years ago, the universe expanded rapidy. 

Scientists used a highly sensitive instrument at the South Pole called the Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization 2, or “BICEP2,” in their calculations. Now they concede that data they gathered on gravatational waves may have been clouded by dust from the Milky Way Galaxy, and they are reviewing the findings.

Doug Duncan, director of the Fiske Planetarium in Boulder, explains that the initial announcement touting the research came prior to peer review, an important step in the scientific process. Duncan says the March findings became controversial almost immediately after the announcement.

Duncan notes that many other scientists are looking for gravitational waves, including a team called POLARBEAR with contributions from experts at the University of Colorado. The POLARBEAR team makes observations from the James Ax observatory in Chile.