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Planck Takes It All In

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Planck's View of the Whole Sky

This image of the microwave sky was synthesized using data spanning the range of light frequencies detected by Planck. These low frequencies, which cannot be seen with the human eye, cover the range of 30 to 857 gigahertz. The grainy structure of the cosmic microwave background, with its tiny temperature fluctuations reflecting the density variations from which the cosmic web of our universe originated, is clearly visible in the high-latitude regions of the map.

ESA, HFI & LFI consortia (2010)

A new image from the Planck mission shows what it's been up to for the past year--surveying the entire sky for clues to our universal origins. Planck, a European Space Agency mission with significant participation from NASA, has been busily scanning the whole sky at nine frequencies of light, with the ultimate goal of isolating fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background--or light from the beginning of time. These fluctuations represent the seeds from which structure in our universe evolved.

"This image shows both our Milky Way galaxy and the universe 380,000 years after the Big Bang in one expansive view," said Charles Lawrence, the NASA project scientist for the mission at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The radiation from the Milky Way traveled hundreds or thousands of years to reach us, while the radiation from the early universe traveled 13.7 billion years to reach us. What we see in this picture happened at very different times.

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