Planck receives its final command

Europe’s Planck satellite has been turned off after nearly 4.5 years of soaking up the relic radiation from the Big Bang and studying the formation of stars and galaxies throughout fourteen billion years of cosmic history. Since its launch in 2009, Planck has been mapping the entire sky to observe the afterglow of the Big […]

Cosmic Microwave Background

Basic Information What is this? The Cosmic Microwave Background Where is it in the sky? It’s the whole Universe – seen as it was just 380,000 years after the Big Bang How big is it? It’s the whole sky! How far away is it? It shows light that has been travelling for 13.82 billion years […]

Inter-Cluster Gas

Basic Information What is this? A bridge of hot gas between two clusters of galaxies Where is it in the sky? In the constellation of Aries How big is it? The clusters contain hundreds of galaxies, and the bridge of gas is around 10 million light years long How far away is it? Around 1 […]

Galactic Haze

Basic Information What is this? A haze of microwave emission originating near the centre of our Galaxy Where is it in the sky? Towards the centre of our Galaxy, in the constellations of Sagittarius, Scorpius and Ophiuchus How big is it? The haze appears to come from a region tens of thousands of light years […]

Carbon Monoxide

Basic Information What is this? A map of carbon monoxide in our Galaxy Where is it in the sky? Carbon monoxide tends to be located in the plane of our Galaxy, but has now been found in more locations How big is it? The image above shows the entire sky, with the disc of our […]

Planck HFI mission draws to a close

After an impressive two and a half years of operation, Planck’s High Frequency Instrument has finally exhausted its onboard coolant gases and reached the end of its very successful mission. Meanwhile the Low Frequency Instrument, which does not need to be super-cold, will continue taking data with unprecedented sensitivity at longer wavelengths. Planck’s primary mission […]

Cold Cores

Basic Information What is this? Cold clumps of dust detected by Planck Where is it in the sky? All over, though mainly in the Galactic Plane How big is it? The cores are clouds of dust, collapsing under gravity to eventually form one or more stars How far away is it? Some of the clumps […]

Perseus Molecular Cloud

Basic Information What is this? Anomalous emission in the constellation of Perseus Where is it in the sky? in the Constellation of Perseus the Hero How big is it? The image is 5 degrees across How far away is it? Around 700 light years away What do the colours represent? Blue represents electrons moving through […]