Ancient Cosmic Light

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The European Space Agency has released an amazing new image of our universe, created by the recently launched Planck mission.  The image above comes from Planck’s first detailed survey of the cosmic microwave background, the universe’s “first light.”

It is the light that was finally allowed to move out across space once a post-Big-Bang Universe had cooled sufficiently to permit the formation of hydrogen atoms.

Before that time, scientists say, the cosmos would have been so hot that matter and radiation would have been “coupled” – the Universe would have been opaque.

Planck is funded to create four of these surveys, each more precise than the last:

“We know that eventually as the data get better and better, what you end up getting to are the limitations of what you know about the instrument,” explained Professor Jaffe.

“And so, by running Planck for longer we can learn a lot more about the instrument itself and thereby remove a lot of the contaminating effects that are just because of the way it produces its noise.”

(BBC via Brian Eno)

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