Clouds in the Milky Way as seen by Planck

Giant filaments of cold dust stretching through our Galaxy are revealed in a new image from ESA's Planck satellite, for which software for data processing has been developed at MPA. Analysing these structures could help to determine the forces that shape our Galaxy and trigger star formation.

Fig.: This image of local dust structures within 500 light-years of the Sun combines the light from Planck's two highest frequency channels and an image by the IRAS satellite. Red colours correspond to temperatures as cold as 10° above absolute zero, and white to a few tens of degrees.
Credits: ESA/HFI Consortium/IRAS

Planck is principally designed to study the biggest mysteries of cosmology. How did the Universe form? How did the galaxies form? This new image extends the range of its investigations into the cold dust structures of our own Galaxy. Understanding the dust radiation from our closeby Milky Way, however, is also essential to reveal details of the background radiation reaching us from the far-away Universe. Planck produces precise maps of this primordial radiation, emitted some 300 000 years after the Big Bang, to answer questions about the origin of our Universe.

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