A ring of dust 200 light years across and a loop covering a third of the sky: two of the results in a new map from the Planck satellite. Dr Mike Peel and Dr Paddy Leahy of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics (JCBA) presented the images today at the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2015) at Venue Cymru, Llandudno, Wales.
The European Space Agency (ESA) Planck satellite, launched in 2009 to study the ancient light of the Big Bang, has also given us maps of our own Galaxy, the Milky Way, in microwaves (radiation at cm- to mm-wavelengths). Microwaves are generated by electrons spiralling in the Galaxy’s magnetic field at nearly the speed of light (the synchrotron process); by collisions in interstellar plasma, by thermal vibration of interstellar dust grains, and by “anomalous” microwave emission (AME), which may be from spinning dust grains.
The relative strength of these processes changes with wavelength, and are separated using multi-wavelength measurements from Planck, from NASA’s WMAP satellite, and from ground-based radio telescopes, giving maps of each component.
ESA’s Planck space telescope has been turned off after nearly 4.5 years soaking up the relic radiation from the Big Bang and studying the evolution of stars and galaxies throughout the Universe’s history.
Project scientist Jan Tauber sent the final command to the Planck satellite this afternoon at 12:10:27 UT, marking the end of operations for ESA’s ‘time machine’.
Launched in 2009, Planck was designed to tease out the faintest relic radiation from the Big Bang – the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The CMB preserves a picture of the Universe as it was about 380 000 years after the Big Bang, and provides details of the initial conditions that led to the Universe we live in today.
“Planck has provided us with more insight into the evolution of the Universe than any mission has before,” says Alvaro Giménez, ESA’s Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.
“Planck’s picture of the CMB is the most accurate ‘baby photo’ of the Universe yet, but the wealth of data still being scrutinised by our cosmologists will provide us with even more details.”
The Planck space mission has released the most accurate and detailed map ever made of the oldest light in the universe, revealing new information about its age, contents and origins.
Planck is a European Space Agency mission. NASA contributed mission-enabling technology for both of Planck’s science instruments, and U.S., European and Canadian scientists work together to analyze the Planck data.
The map results suggest the universe is expanding more slowly than scientists thought, and is 13.8 billion years old, 100 million years older than previous estimates. The data also show there is less dark energy and more matter, both normal and dark matter, in the universe than previously known. Dark matter is an invisible substance that can only be seen through the effects of its gravity, while dark energy is pushing our universe apart. The nature of both remains mysterious.
“Astronomers worldwide have been on the edge of their seats waiting for this map,” said Joan Centrella, Planck program scientist at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “These measurements are profoundly important to many areas of science, as well as future space missions. We are so pleased to have worked with the European Space Agency on such a historic endeavor.”
Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-109
NASA will host a news conference at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT) Thursday, March 21, to discuss the first cosmology results from Planck, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA participation.
The briefing will be held at NASA Headquarters in Washington. It will be broadcast live on NASA Television and streamed on the agency’s website.
Planck launched into space in 2009 and has been scanning the skies ever since, mapping cosmic microwave background, or the afterglow, of the big bang that created our universe more than 13 billion years ago.
Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2013-096&cid=release_2013-096
Broadcast Information: http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html
To make the most precise measurement yet of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) – the remnant radiation from the big bang – the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Planck satellite mission has been collecting trillions of observations of the sky since the summer of 2009. On March 21, 2013, ESA and NASA, a major partner in Planck, will release preliminary cosmology results based on Planck’s first 15 months of data. The results have required the intense creative efforts of a large international collaboration, with significant participation by the U.S. Planck Team based at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL).
Strength in data analysis is a major U.S. contribution, including the resources of the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center (NERSC) at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the expertise of scientists in Berkeley Lab’s Computational Cosmology Center (C3).
The cosmological signal in the CMB data set is tiny, and separating it from the overwhelming instrument noise and astrophysical foregrounds requires enormous data sets – Planck’s 72 detectors gather 10,000 samples per second as they sweep over the sky – and exquisitely precise analyses.
ESA’s Planck mission has revealed that our Galaxy contains previously undiscovered islands of cold gas and a mysterious haze of microwaves. These results give scientists new treasure to mine and take them closer to revealing the blueprint of cosmic structure.
The new results are being presented this week at an international conference in Bologna, Italy, where astronomers from around the world are discussing the mission’s intermediate results.
These results include the first map of carbon monoxide to cover the entire sky. Carbon monoxide is a constituent of the cold clouds that populate the Milky Way and other galaxies. Predominantly made of hydrogen molecules, these clouds provide the reservoirs from which stars are born.