Archive for February 13, 2012

Planck Time

Posted in The Universe and Stuff with tags , , , , , , on February 13, 2012 by telescoper

Only time for a quickie today, as I have a busy afternoon in store at a meeting in the Graduate College (zzz…). Today there has been a press conference in Bologna about latest results from the ESA experiment, Planck. Here’s a picture taken at the press conference by roving reporter astrophysicist Mike Peel.

I gave a talk in that room once, actually, although there weren’t any press people there on that occasion.

Although it will be some time still before the full cosmological results from Planck are released to the public (and researchers outside the Planck Consortium), the press conference covered a number of new and interesting discoveries, particularly about our own Galaxy. You can read about them at the  ESA Planck website here and on the UK Planck site (hosted at Cardiff University) here.

Among the results are beautiful maps of microwave emission from cold molecular gas (e.g.  carbon monoxide) from sources inside the Milky Way:

Planck wasn’t specifically designed to detect CO emission, but it’s part of the “foreground” radiation that must be understood and modelled on the way to extracting cosmological information from the results.

Another exciting item is the Galactic Haze that emanates from the central regions of the Milky Way, which you can see in this picture poking out from behind the “mask” that is used to blank out emission from the Galactic Plane (i.e. the disk of our Galaxy).

The origin of this haze, which appears to be consistent with synchrotron radiation but with quite a hard spectrum, is not known and is the topic of much discussion in the astrophysics community.

For more information, see the main Planck site or, with more technical details, here.