B-mode polarization is a polarization signal in the cosmic microwave background radiation. The pattern of polarization in the cosmic microwave background can be broken into two components. One, a curl-free, gradient-only component, the E-mode (named in analogy to electrostatic fields), was first seen in 2002 by the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI). The second component is divergence-free, curl only, and is known as the B-mode (named in analogy to magnetic fields).
BICEP2 announced in March 2014 that they had detected the first type of B-modes, consistent with inflation and gravitational waves in the early universe at the level of r = 0.20+0.07
−0.05, which is the amount of power present in gravitational waves compared to the amount of power present in other scalar density perturbations in the very early universe.
The second type of B-modes was discovered earlier using National Science Foundation's South Pole Telescope with help from the Herschel Space Observatory. This discovery may help test theories on the origin of the universe. Scientists are using data from the Planck mission by the European Space Agency, to gain a better understanding of these waves.
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