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Looking back in time: New images from Planck mission

Looking back in time: New images from Planck mission will help scientists peer into the

Three new images from the Planck mission will help scientists peer into the early universe - <em>News</em>

Adapted from a press release issued by ESA
Thursday 25 March 2010

New images from European Space Agency's (ESA) Planck mission, which involves researchers at Imperial College London, reveal details of the structure of the coldest regions in our Galaxy. These images are a scientific by-product of a mission which will ultimately provide the sharpest picture ever of the early Universe.

ESA's Planck microwave observatory has begun the second of four sky surveys, which will ultimately provide the most detailed information yet about the size, mass, age, geometry, composition and fate of the Universe. Planck is the first European mission designed to study the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), the relic radiation from the Big Bang.

Although the primary goal of Planck is to map the CMB, by surveying the entire sky, Planck will also provide valuable data for a broad range of studies in astrophysics. This is clearly demonstrated by new Planck images, which trace cold dust in our Galaxy and reveal the large-scale structure of the interstellar medium filling the Milky Way.

In the audio clips below, Dr Dave Clements from the Department of Physics, who works on the Planck mission, talks about Planck and what the three new images show.

The images are a scientific 'by-product' of the data analysis that is currently underway, which aims to produce the highest-sensitivity, highest-angular resolution maps of the CMB. Part of the analysis process involves peeling away the foreground emission arising from a number of 'contaminants', including the radiation from gas and dust in the Milky Way and in distant galaxies, to reveal the underlying map of the CMB. In the process, a series of scientifically valuable maps of this foreground emission is obtained. The maps will be constructed from images like these first Planck snapshots.

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