Planck composite map of the Milky Way
Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech

Dust to Dust

In order to see far, you need to understand what's close. So in order to understand the primordial cosmic background radiation, the remnant radiation from the Big Bang that started flying towards us when the first electrons combined with the first protons, corrections need to be made for the radiation emitted by everything in our home Galaxy - stars, hot dust, electrons trapped by magnetic fields, molecules, everything. The Planck mission, designed to study minute fluctuations in the cosmic background radiation in order to understand where the stars in our Galaxy came from, needs to understand the radiation those stars emit, along with the radiation emitted by the molecules and dust those stars produced. After more than four years observing this cosmic background radiation, the Planck mission has developed a very good measure of that "annoying" foreground radiation. The image above is an image of our Milky Way obtained by Planck, showing the distribution of gas, charged particles and several types of dust. These data are helping us re-evaluate our understanding of the formation and growth of the Universe, the distribution of gas and dust in our own Milky Way, and the importance of foreground dust on the detection of gravity waves from the period of inflation just after the big bang.
Published: February 9, 2015

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Each week the HEASARC brings you new, exciting and beautiful images from X-ray and Gamma ray astronomy. Check back each week and be sure to check out the HEAPOW archive!
Page Author: Dr. Michael F. Corcoran
Last modified Monday, 16-Feb-2015 10:41:12 EST