Planck reveals unseen wonders of the universe

January 12th, 2011 - 4:58 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, Jan 12 (ANI): Europe’s Planck spacecraft has unveiled some stunning astronomical finds, including massive galaxy clusters and new unidentified objects.

“These new results are all vital pieces of a jigsaw that could give us a full picture of the evolution of both our own cosmic backyard — the Milky Way galaxy that we live in — as well as the early history of the whole Universe,” said Dr. David Parker, Director of Space Science and Exploration for the UKSpace Agency.

“There are new discoveries on dust and cold gas in our Galaxy, star forming regions, very distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies. These early results provide just a first glimpse of Planck’s scientific potential. I expect much more to come in the next two years,” agreed Prof. George Efstathiou, University of Cambridge and member of the Planck Science Team.

The mission, which began on 13th August 2009, has unearthed evidence for several galaxies, which formed stars at rates some 10-1000 times higher than we see in our own galaxy today.

In order to see it properly, contaminating emission from a whole host of foreground sources must first be removed. Today, an important step towards removing this contamination was also announced.

However, data collected by Planck confirm the theory that it is coming from dust grains spinning at several tens of billion times a second by collisions with either fast-moving atoms or packets of ultraviolet light.

This new understanding helps to remove this local microwave ‘fog’ from the Planck data with greater precision, leaving the cosmic microwave background untouched.

Planck has also collected new data on clusters of galaxies — the largest structures in the Universe, each containing thousands of galaxies.

“It is fantastic to have reached the stage where we see real science emerging,” said Dr. Althea Wilkinson, University of Manchester.

Prof. Peter Ade, Cardiff University, who works on the High Frequency Instrument, added, “seeing these excellent results gives a glimpse of the legacy the Planck mission will provide in terms of our understanding of the Universe.” (ANI)

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