Nov 12

Planck spots hot gas bridging galaxy cluster pair

Source: ESA

Galaxy clusters connected by gas bridge.
Image credits: Sunyaev–Zel’dovich effect: ESA Planck Collaboration;
optical image: STScI Digitized Sky Survey

ESA’s Planck space telescope has made the first conclusive detection of a bridge of hot gas connecting a pair of galaxy clusters across 10 million light-years of intergalactic space.(read more)

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Jan 12

Planck's HFI completes its survey of early Universe

Source: ESA

Planck's Instruments.
Image credits: ESA (images by AOES Medialab)

The High Frequency Instrument on ESA's Planck mission has completed its survey of the remnant light from the Big Bang. The sensor ran out of coolant on Saturday as expected, ending its ability to detect this faint energy. (read more)

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Jan 11

Planck's new view of the cosmic theatre

Source: ESA Press Release N°03-2011

This image shows the location of the first six fields used to detect and study the Cosmic Infrared Background.
Image credits: ESA/Planck Collaboration

The first scientific results from ESA's Planck mission were released at a press briefing today in Paris. The findings focus on the coldest objects in the Universe, from within our Galaxy to the distant reaches of space.

If William Shakespeare were an astronomer living today, he might write that"All the Universe is a stage, and all the galaxies merely players."Planck is bringing us new views of both the stage and players, revealing the drama of the evolution of our Universe.

Following the publication by ESA of the first full-sky Planck image in July last year, today sees the release of the first scientific results from the mission.(read more)

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Jan 11

ESA releases first Planck data

Source: ESA

Artist's impression on Planck. Image credits: ESA - C. Carreau.

Scientists from ESA and several European astronomy institutes presented today the first data and results from ESA’s Planck mission. The Early Release Compact Source Catalogue contains thousands of sources detected by Planck, from radio to far-infrared wavelengths, ranging from dense, cold clouds embedded in nearby star-forming regions to distant, supermassive clusters of galaxies. (view release)

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Jul 10

Planck unveils the Universe - now and then

Source: ESA PR 15-2010

ESA's Planck mission has delivered its first all-sky image. It not only provides new insight into the way stars and galaxies form but also tells us how the  Universe itself came to life after the Big Bang.
"This is the moment that Planck was conceived for," says ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration, David Southwood. "We're not giving the answer. We are opening the door to an Eldorado where scientists can seek the nuggets that will lead to deeper understanding of how our Universe came to be and how it works now. The image itself and its remarkable quality is a tribute to the engineers who built and have operated Planck. Now the scientific harvest must
From the closest portions of the Milky Way to the furthest reaches of space and time, the new all-sky Planck image is an extraordinary treasure chest of new data for astronomers.
The main disc of our Galaxy runs across the centre of the image. Immediately striking are the streamers of cold dust reaching above and below the Milky Way.
This galactic web is where new stars are being formed, and Planck has found many locations where individual stars are edging toward birth or just beginning their cycle of development.
Less spectacular but perhaps more intriguing is the mottled backdrop at the top and bottom. This is the 'cosmic microwave background radiation' (CMBR). It is the oldest light in the Universe, the remains of the fireball out of which our Universe sprang into existence 13.7 billion years ago.

While the Milky Way shows us what the local Universe looks like now, those the microwave pattern is the cosmic blueprint from which today's clusters and superclusters of galaxies were built. The different colours represent minute
differences in the temperature and density of matter across the sky. Somehow these small irregularities evolved into denser regions that became the galaxies of today.
The CMBR covers the entire sky but most of it is hidden in this image by the Milky Way's emission, which must be digitally removed from the final data in order to see the microwave background in its entirety.
When this work is completed, Planck will show us the most precise picture of the microwave background ever obtained. The big question will be whether the data will reveal the cosmic signature of the primordial period called inflation.
This era is postulated to have taken place just after the Big Bang and resulted in the Universe expanding enormously in size over an extremely short period.
Planck continues to map the Universe. By the end of its mission in 2012, it will have completed four all-sky scans. The first full data release of the CMBR is planned for 2012. Before then, the catalogue containing individual objects in our
Galaxy and whole distant galaxies will be released in January 2011.
"This image is just a glimpse of what Planck will ultimately see," says Jan Tauber, ESA's Planck Project Scientist.(read more)

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