NEW YORK (AP) — The universe was born almost 14 billion years ago, exploding into existence in an event called the Big Bang. Now researchers say

University of Minnesota

they've spotted evidence that a split-second later, the expansion of the cosmos began with a powerful jump-start.

Experts called the discovery a major advance if confirmed. Although many scientists already believed that the initial, extremely rapid growth spurt happened, finding this evidence of it has been a key goal in the study of the universe. Researchers reported Monday that they did it by peering into the faint light that remains from the Big Bang.

The results were announced by a collaboration that includes researchers from the University of Minnesota, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Stanford University, the California Institute of Technology and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.