News from the Frontiers of Cosmology: A companion to the book The Edge of Physics
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PLANCK paints first all-sky CMB map


The European Space Agency has announced that its Planck satellite has completed its first all-sky survey of the universe.

The image shows the radiation from the dust in our galaxy in blue, the white hot gas is in the centre, and the mottled backdrop is the cosmic microwave background. Click here for a high-res image.

The foreground of the emissions from the galactic dust and gas will have to be subtracted to obtain the clear map of the cosmic microwave background, which is the radiation left over from the big bang, a light that is about 13.4 billion years old!

It’s Planck’s ability to gather high resolution information about the foreground emissions that will allow it to map the CMB as never before, better than NASA’s still-orbiting WMAP satellite or any other instruments that came before.

This survey took 10 months, starting in August 2009.  By the time the mission ends in 2012, Planck hopes to have studied the entire sky four times over.

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