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  • richardmitnick 7:02 pm on June 6, 2016 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Planck, Loop I   

    From ESA: “A mysterious ring of microwaves” 

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    European Space Agency

    06/06/2016
    ESA and the Planck Collaboration

    1

    Fifty years ago, astronomers discovered a mystery. They called it Loop I. Today, we still have not fully resolved the mystery of how this giant celestial structure formed but we do now have the best image of it, thanks to ESA’s Planck satellite.

    ESA/Planck
    ESA/Planck

    Loop I is a nearly circular formation that covers one third of the sky. In reality, it is probably a spherical ‘bubble’ that stretches to more than 100º across, making it wider than 200 full Moons. Its absolute size, however, is extremely uncertain because astronomers do not know how close it is to us: estimates to the centre of the bubble vary from 400 light-years to 25 000 light-years.

    What they do know is that the structure shows up in many different wavelengths, from radio waves to gamma rays. Planck sees Loop I in microwaves. This image’s colours reflect the polarisation – the direction in which the microwaves are oscillating.

    Our eyes are not sensitive to this information in the visible light, where we perceive only the intensity and colour. Planck, however, can detect all three of these characteristics in the microwaves it targets.

    The microwaves detected by Planck are emitted by electrons that are being accelerated by the Galaxy’s magnetic field.

    Loop I is most visible in the sky’s northern hemisphere. Astronomers refer to this portion as the north polar spur. It can be seen in this image as the yellow arc. This fades to purple and can be traced into the southern hemisphere, completing the circle. The blue band spanning the image horizontally is the Galactic Plane.

    The most popular interpretation places Loop I close to us. If this is correct, it could be related to the ‘Scorpius–Centaurus OB Association’, a region of high-mass star formation that has been active for over 10 million years. Loop I could well be a supernova remnant, a giant bubble hollowed out by the explosion of stars in the OB association.

    It is likely that the stars responsible for Loop I have long since dispersed, so what we see is the ‘smoke’ rather than the ‘fire’ of the explosions.

    High-mass stars burn their nuclear fuel so quickly that they live only a few million years before exploding. As these titanic supernovas bloom, their blast waves carve bubbles in the surrounding gas. This compresses the Galaxy’s magnetic field into the bubble ‘walls’, making it stronger and more efficient at accelerating the electrons to produce the observed radiation.

    Loop I could well be the combined super-bubble from a number of such cataclysms. As the electrons lose energy and diffuse into the wider Galaxy, so Loop I will eventually fade and disappear. This is likely to take a few million years.

    If the loop is more distant, then it could conceivably be the result of an outburst from around the black hole at the centre of the Galaxy.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 9:47 am on December 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background: zoom” 

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    European Space Agency

    1
    Credits: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

    A visualisation of the polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB, as detected by ESA’s Planck satellite on a small patch of the sky measuring 20º across.

    CMB Planck ESA
    CMB

    ESA Planck
    Planck

    The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380 000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today.

    A small fraction of the CMB is polarised – it vibrates in a preferred direction. This is a result of the last encounter of this light with electrons, just before starting its cosmic journey. For this reason, the polarisation of the CMB retains information about the distribution of matter in the early Universe, and its pattern on the sky follows that of the tiny fluctuations observed in the temperature of the CMB.

    In this image, the colour scale represents temperature differences in the CMB, while the texture indicates the direction of the polarised light. The patterns seen in the texture are characteristic of ‘E-mode’ polarisation, which is the dominant type for the CMB.

    For the sake of illustration, both data sets have been filtered to show mostly the signal detected on scales around 5º on the sky. However, fluctuations in both the CMB temperature and polarisation are present and were observed by Planck also on larger as well as smaller angular scales.

    See the full article here .

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 7:36 am on September 7, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “The Magellanic Clouds and an interstellar filament” 

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    European Space Agency

    09/07/2015
    ESA and the Planck Collaboration

    1

    Portrayed in this image from ESA’s Planck satellite are the two Magellanic Clouds, among the nearest companions of our Milky Way galaxy. The Large Magellanic Cloud, about 160 000 light-years away, is the large red and orange blob close to the centre of the image. The Small Magellanic Cloud, some 200 000 light-years from us, is the vaguely triangular-shaped object to the lower left.

    ESA Planck
    Planck

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    Seen from the southern skies, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds (the LMC and SMC, respectively) are bright patches in the sky. These two irregular dwarf galaxies, together with our Milky Way Galaxy, belong to the so-called Local Group of galaxies. Astronomers once thought that the two Magellanic Clouds orbited the Milky Way, but recent research suggests this is not the case, and that they are in fact on their first pass by the Milky Way. The LMC, lying at a distance of 160 000 light-years, and its neighbour the SMC, some 200 000 light-years away, are among the largest distant objects we can observe with the unaided eye. Both galaxies have notable bar features across their central discs, although the very strong tidal forces exerted by the Milky Way have distorted the galaxies considerably. The mutual gravitational pull of the three interacting galaxies has drawn out long streams of neutral hydrogen that interlink the three galaxies.
    Date 27 August 2009
    Source ESO

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    The Large Magellanic Cloud. CREDIT: C-141 KAO Imagery: Supernova 1987A (April 1987 – New Zealand Deployment) Large Magellanic Cloud; Photographer: C-141 Imagery; Date: Jun 23, 1987. PREPARED BY Adrian Pingstone in December 2003.

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    The two-color image shows an overview of the full Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) and was composed from two images from the Digitized Sky Survey 2. The field of view is slightly larger than 3.5 × 3.6 degrees. N66 with the open star cluster NGC 346 is the largest of the star-forming regions seen below the center of the SMC.
    Date 10 November 2005
    Source http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/html/heic0514c.html (direct link)
    Author ESA/Hubble. and Digitized Sky Survey 2

    NASA Hubble Telescope
    NASA/ESA Hubble

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    Galaxy NGC 66
    Date 17:02, 22 April 2008 (UTC)
    Source Two Micron All Sky Survey (2MASS)

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    A Hubble Space Telescope (HST) image of NGC 346.
    Date 10 November 2005
    Source http://www.spacetelescope.org/images/html/heic0514a.html
    Author NASA, ESA and A. Nota (ESA/STScI, STScI/AURA)

    At around ten and seven billion times the mass of our Sun, respectively, these are classed as dwarf galaxies. As a comparison, the Milky Way and another of its neighbours, the Andromeda galaxy, boast masses of a few hundred billion solar masses each.

    5
    Andromeda Galaxy Adam Evans

    The Magellanic Clouds are not visible from high northern latitudes and were introduced to European astronomy only at the turn of the 16th century. However, they were known long before by many civilisations in the southern hemisphere, as well as by Middle Eastern astronomers.

    Planck detected the dust between the stars pervading the Magellanic Clouds while surveying the sky to study the cosmic microwave background [CMB] – the most ancient light in the Universe – in unprecedented detail. In fact, Planck detected emission from virtually anything that shone between itself and the cosmic background at its sensitive frequencies.

    CMB Planck ESA
    CMB per Planck

    These foreground contributions include many galaxies, near and far, as well as interstellar material in the Milky Way. Astronomers need to remove them in order to access the wealth of cosmic information contained in the ancient light. But, as a bonus, they can use the foreground observations to learn more about how stars form in galaxies, including our own.

    Interstellar dust from the diffuse medium that permeates our Galaxy can be seen as the mixture of red, orange and yellow clouds in the upper part of this image, which belong to a large star-forming complex in the southern constellation, Chameleon.

    In addition, a filament can also be seen stretching from the dense clouds of Chameleon, in the upper left, towards the opposite corner of the image.

    Apparently located between the two Magellanic Clouds as viewed from Planck, this dusty filament is in fact much closer to us, only about 300 light-years away. The image shows how well this structure is aligned with the galaxy’s magnetic field, which is represented as the texture of the image and was estimated from Planck’s measurements.

    By comparing the structure of the magnetic field and the distribution of interstellar dust in the Milky Way, scientists can study the relative distribution of interstellar clouds and the ambient magnetic field. While in the case of the filamentary cloud portrayed in this image, the structure is aligned with the direction of the magnetic field, in the denser clouds where stars form filaments tend to be perpendicular to the interstellar magnetic field.

    The lower right part of the image is one of the faintest areas of the sky at Planck’s frequencies, with the blue hues indicating very low concentrations of cosmic dust. Similarly, the eddy-like structure of the texture is caused primarily by instrument noise rather than by actual features in the magnetic field.

    The emission from dust is computed from a combination of Planck observations at 353, 545 and 857 GHz, whereas the direction of the magnetic field is based on Planck polarisation data at 353 GHz. The image spans about 40º.

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:59 pm on September 3, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From JPL: “Herschel and Planck Honored with Space Systems Award” 

    JPL

    September 3, 2015
    Whitney Clavin
    Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
    818-354-4673
    whitney.clavin@jpl.nasa.gov

    1
    Left ESA/Herschel, right ESA/Planck

    The Herschel and Planck project teams are this year’s recipients of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Space Systems Award. Both space missions were led by the European Space Agency (ESA), with important participation from NASA.

    This award is presented annually by the AIAA to recognize outstanding achievements in the architecture, analysis, design and implementation of space systems. This year’s award was presented Sept. 2 during the AIAA Space and Astronautics Forum and Exposition, in Pasadena.

    The project teams of the Herschel and Planck missions, which were managed together by ESA, have been cited for “outstanding scientific achievements recognized by the worldwide scientific community and for outstanding technical performances of the two satellites.”

    The Herschel infrared space observatory, which operated from May 2009 until April 2013, carried the largest telescope ever built for a space observatory. Its 3.5-meter primary mirror collected long-wavelength radiation from some of the coldest and most distant objects in the universe. The observatory made more than 40,000 scientific observations over about 25,000 hours. Herschel’s data are publicly available for use by astronomers across the globe.

    Planck was launched into space with Herschel in 2009, and also operated until October, 2013. It was designed to probe, with the highest accuracy ever achieved, the remnants of the radiation that filled the universe immediately after its explosive birth. Data from Planck, also publicly available, are helping to provide answers to some of the most important questions in modern science: how did the universe begin, how did it evolve to the state we observe today and how will it continue to evolve in the future?

    Cosmic Background Radiation Planck
    CMB per Planck

    JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for instruments on both Planck and Herschel. The U.S. data archives for both missions are based at NASA’s Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

    More information about Herschel is online at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/herschel

    http://www.herschel.caltech.edu

    http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel

    More information about Planck is online at:

    http://www.nasa.gov/planck

    http://www.esa.int/planck

    See the full article here.

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    NASA JPL Campus

    Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is a federally funded research and development center and NASA field center located in the San Gabriel Valley area of Los Angeles County, California, United States. Although the facility has a Pasadena postal address, it is actually headquartered in the city of La Cañada Flintridge, on the northwest border of Pasadena. JPL is managed by the nearby California Institute of Technology (Caltech) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The Laboratory’s primary function is the construction and operation of robotic planetary spacecraft, though it also conducts Earth-orbit and astronomy missions. It is also responsible for operating NASA’s Deep Space Network.

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  • richardmitnick 8:30 am on May 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: “Star formation and magnetic turbulence in the Orion Molecular Cloud” 

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    European Space Agency

    18/05/2015
    No Writer Credit

    Temp 1
    ESA and the Planck Collaboration

    With blue hues suggestive of marine paradises and a texture evoking the tranquil flow of sea waves, this image might make us daydream of sandy beaches and exotic holiday destinations. Instead, the subject of the scene is intense and powerful, because it depicts the formation of stars in the turbulent billows of gas and dust of the Orion Molecular Cloud.

    The image is based on data from ESA’s Planck satellite, which scanned the sky between 2009 and 2013 to study the cosmic microwave background [CMB], the most ancient light in the Universe’s history.

    ESA Planck
    Planck

    Cosmic Microwave Background  Planck
    CMB per Planck

    While doing so, Planck also detected foreground emission from material in the Milky Way, as well as from other galaxies.

    Our Galaxy is pervaded by a diffuse mixture of gas and dust that occasionally becomes denser, creating giant gas clouds where stars can form. While present only in traces, dust is a crucial ingredient in these interstellar clouds. It also shines brightly at some of the wavelengths that were probed by Planck, so astronomers can use these data to learn more about the cradles of star formation.

    In addition, dust grains have elongated shapes and tend to align their longest axis at right angles to the direction of the Galaxy’s magnetic field. This makes their emission partly ‘polarised’ – it vibrates in a preferred direction. Since Planck was equipped with polarisation-sensitive detectors, its scans also contain information about the direction of the magnetic field threading the Milky Way.

    This image combines a visualisation of the total intensity of dust emission, shown in the colour scale, with an indication of the magnetic field’s orientation, represented by the texture. Blue hues correspond to regions with little dust, while the yellow and red areas reflect denser (and mostly hotter) clouds containing larger amounts of dust, as well as gas.

    The red clumps at the centre of the image are part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, one of the closest large regions of star formation, only about 1300 light-years from the Sun.

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    Part of the Orion Molecular Cloud Complex, with the Great Nebula in Orion near the center, along with the Belt of Orion, and Barnard’s Loop curling around the image

    The most prominent of the red clumps, to the lower left of centre, is the famous Orion Nebula, also known as M42.

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    In one of the most detailed astronomical images ever produced, NASA/ESA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured an unprecedented look at the Orion Nebula. … This extensive study took 105 Hubble orbits to complete. All imaging instruments aboard the telescope were used simultaneously to study Orion. The Advanced Camera mosaic covers approximately the apparent angular size of the full moon.

    This is visible to the naked eye in the constellation Orion, just below the three stars forming the ‘belt’ of the mythological hunter. An annotated version of the image can be found here.

    The magnetic field appears regular and organised in almost parallel lines in the upper part of the image: this is a result of the large-scale arrangement of the magnetic field along the Galactic plane, which is located above the top of this image. However, the field becomes less regular in the central and lower parts of the image, in the region of the Orion Molecular Cloud. Astronomers believe that the turbulent structure of the magnetic field observed in this and other star-forming clouds is related to the powerful processes taking place when stars are being born.

    The emission from dust is computed from a combination of Planck observations at 353, 545 and 857 GHz, whereas the direction of the magnetic field is based on Planck polarisation data at 353 GHz. The image spans about 40º across.

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 11:43 am on March 31, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From ESA: Herschel and Planck Find Missing Clue to Galaxy Cluster Formation 

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    European Space Agency

    31 March 2015

    Markus Bauer

    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer

    Tel: +31 71 565 6799; +34 91 8131 199

    Mob: +31 61 594 3954

    Email: Markus.Bauer@esa.int

    Hervé Dole
    Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale (CNRS & Univ. Paris-Sud) and Institut Universitaire de France Orsay, France

    Tel: +33 1 69 85 85 72
    Email: Herve.Dole@ias.u-psud.fr

    Ludovic Montier
    Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (CNRS & Univ. Paul Sabatier Toulouse III), Toulouse, France
    Tel: +33 5 61 55 65 51
    Email: Ludovic.Montier@irap.omp.eu

    Jan Tauber

    ESA Planck Project Scientist

    Tel: +31 71 565 5342

    Email: Jan.Tauber@esa.int

    Göran Pilbratt

    ESA Herschel Project Scientist

    Tel: +31 71 565 3621

    Email: gpilbratt@cosmos.esa.int

    1
    Proto-cluster candidates

    By combining observations of the distant Universe made with ESA’s Herschel and Planck space observatories, cosmologists have discovered what could be the precursors of the vast clusters of galaxies that we see today.

    ESA Herschel
    Herschel

    ESA Planck
    Planck

    Galaxies like our Milky Way with its 100 billion stars are usually not found in isolation. In the Universe today, 13.8 billion years after the Big Bang, many are in dense clusters of tens, hundreds or even thousands of galaxies.

    However, these clusters have not always existed, and a key question in modern cosmology is how such massive structures assembled in the early Universe.

    Pinpointing when and how they formed should provide insight into the process of galaxy cluster evolution, including the role played by dark matter in shaping these cosmic metropolises.

    Now, using the combined strengths of Herschel and Planck, astronomers have found objects in the distant Universe, seen at a time when it was only three billion years old, which could be precursors of the clusters seen around us today.

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    The history of the Universe

    Planck’s main goal was to provide the most precise map of the relic radiation of the Big Bang, the cosmic microwave background [CMB].

    Cosmic Microwave Background  Planck
    CMB per Planck

    To do so, it surveyed the entire sky in nine different wavelengths from the far-infrared to radio, in order to eliminate foreground emission from our galaxy and others in the Universe.

    But those foreground sources can be important in other fields of astronomy, and it was in Planck’s short wavelength data that scientists were able to identify 234 bright sources with characteristics that suggested they were located in the distant, early Universe.

    Herschel then observed these objects across the far-infrared to submillimetre wavelength range, but with much higher sensitivity and angular resolution.

    Herschel revealed that the vast majority of the Planck-detected sources are consistent with dense concentrations of galaxies in the early Universe, vigorously forming new stars.

    Each of these young galaxies is seen to be converting gas and dust into stars at a rate of a few hundred to 1500 times the mass of our Sun per year. By comparison, our own Milky Way galaxy today is producing stars at an average rate of just one solar mass per year.

    While the astronomers have not yet conclusively established the ages and luminosities of many of these newly discovered distant galaxy concentrations, they are the best candidates yet found for ‘proto-clusters’ – precursors of the large, mature galaxy clusters we see in the Universe today.

    “Hints of these kinds of objects had been found earlier in data from Herschel and other telescopes, but the all-sky capability of Planck revealed many more candidates for us to study,” says Hervé Dole of the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale, Orsay, lead scientist of the analysis published today in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

    “We still have a lot to learn about this new population, requiring further follow-up studies with other observatories. But we believe that they are a missing piece of cosmological structure formation.”

    “We are now preparing an extended catalogue of possible proto-clusters detected by Planck, which should help us identify even more of these objects,” adds Ludovic Montier, a CNRS researcher at the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie, Toulouse, who is the lead scientist of the Planck catalogue of high-redshift source candidates, which is about to be delivered to the community.

    “This exciting result was possible thanks to the synergy between Herschel and Planck: rare objects could be identified from the Planck data covering the entire sky, and then Herschel was able to scrutinise them in finer detail,” says ESA’s Herschel Project Scientist, Göran Pilbratt.

    “Both space observatories completed their science observations in 2013, but their rich datasets will be exploited for plentiful new insights about the cosmos for years to come.”

    Notes for Editors

    High-redshift infrared galaxy overdensity candidates and lensed sources discovered by Planck and confirmed by Herschel-SPIRE, is authored by the Planck Collaboration.

    Planck detected the sky at nine frequencies, from 30 GHz to 857 GHz. The Planck frequencies used to detect the candidate proto-clusters in this study were 857 GHz, 545 GHz and 353 GHz. The follow-up observations made by Herschel’s SPIRE instrument were at 250, 350 and 500 microns. The SPIRE 350 micron and 500 micron bands overlap with Planck’s High Frequency Instrument (HFI) at 857 GHz and 545 GHz.

    ESA Herschel SPIRE
    SPIRE on Herschel

    The Planck Scientific Collaboration consists of all the scientists who have contributed to the development of the mission, and who participate in the scientific exploitation of the data during the proprietary period. These scientists are members of one or more of four consortia: the LFI Consortium, the HFI Consortium, the DK-Planck Consortium and ESA’s Planck Science Office. The two European-led Planck Data Processing Centres are located in Paris, France and Trieste, Italy. The LFI consortium is led by N. Mandolesi, ASI, Italy (deputy PI: M. Bersanelli, Universita’ degli Studi di Milano, Italy), and was responsible for the development and operation of LFI. The HFI consortium is led by J.L. Puget, Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France (deputy PI: F. Bouchet, Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, France), and was responsible for the development and operation of HFI.

    See the full article here.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 8:31 pm on February 6, 2015 Permalink | Reply
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    From Space.com: “Gallery: Planck Spacecraft Sees Big Bang Relics” 

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    SPACE.com

    ESA’s Planck Spacecraft
    1
    Credit: ESA – C. Carreau
    The European Space Agency’s Planck observatory peered back into the universe’s history to study the cosmic microwave background, the oldest light in the universe. See images from Planck’s prolific mission in this Space.com gallery. Here: An artist’s view of Planck with the cosmic microwave background as a backdrop.

    Milky Way Galaxy in Microwaves
    temp0
    Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
    A view of the Milky Way galaxy in microwaves, captured by the European Space Agency’s Planck satellite. The different colors correspond to different elements, including gas, dust, and energetic particles.

    Milky Way Dust – Planck Map
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    Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
    This map of the Milky Way shows the distribution of interstellar dust across the galaxy as seen by the Planck space observatory, a mission by the European Space Agency. ESA and NASA unveiled the image on Feb. 5, 2015.

    A View of the Milky Way in Microwaves
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    Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
    Each of the four bottom) show a specific subset of Planck observations that make up the combined view (top). Of the subsets, they show: Top left is dust, top right is gas, bottom right is light from charged particle interactions, and bottom right shows charged particles moving along the galaxy’s magnetic field.

    All the Matter in the Universe by Planck
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    Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
    All of the matter between Earth and the edge of the observable universe is shown in this image based on data from the European Space Agency’s Planck space observatory. This map was released on Feb. 5, 2015.

    Planck’s All-Sky Map: Cosmic Microwave Background
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    Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration
    This image unveiled March 21, 2013, shows the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as observed by the European Space Agency’s Planck space observatory. The CMB is a snapshot of the oldest light in our Universe, imprinted on the sky when the Universe was just 380 000 years old. It shows tiny temperature fluctuations that correspond to regions of slightly different densities, representing the seeds of all future structure: the stars and galaxies of today.

    Planck’s Ingredients of the Universe
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    Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration
    This European Space Agency graphic depicts the most refined values yet of the Universe’s ingredients, based on the first all-sky map of the cosmic microwave background by the Planck space observatory unveiled on March 21, 2013. Normal matter that makes up stars and galaxies contributes 4.9 percent of the Universe’s mass/energy inventory. Dark matter occupies 26.8 percent, while dark energy accounts for 68.3 percent.

    Planck’s All-Sky Map: Cosmic Microwave Background Anomalies
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    Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration
    Two Cosmic Microwave Background anomalies hinted at by the Planck observatory’s predecessor, NASA’s WMAP, are confirmed in new high-precision data revealed on March 21, 2013. In this image, the two anomalous regions have been enhanced with red and blue shading to make them more clearly visible.

    Planck’s All-Sky Map vs. Standard Model
    9
    This European Space Agency graphic shows a map of the universe that depicts the anomalies seen when comparing the Planck space observatory’s map of the universe’s cosmic microwave background and the standard model of the cosmos. Image released March 21, 2013.

    Planck All-Sky Image of Carbon Monoxide
    10
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration
    This all-sky image shows the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck. Image released February 13, 2012.

    Galactic Haze Seen by Planck and Galactic ‘Bubbles’ Seen by Fermi
    11
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration (microwave); NASA/DOE/Fermi LAT/D. Finkbeiner et al. (gamma rays)
    This all-sky image shows the distribution of the galactic haze seen by ESA’s Planck mission at microwave frequencies…

    Galactic Haze Seen by Planck
    12
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration
    his all-sky image shows the spatial distribution over the whole sky of the galactic haze at 30 and 44 GHz, extracted from the Planck observations. Image released February 13, 2012.

    Planck All-Sky Image Superimposition
    13
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration; T. Dame et al.
    This all-sky image shows the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck (blue). A compilation of previous surveys (Dame et al. (2001)), which left large areas of the sky unobserved, has been superimposed for comparison (red). The outlines identify the portions of the sky covered by these surveys. Image released February 13, 2012.

    Cepheus Molecular Cloud Complex
    14
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration; T. Dame et al., 2001
    This image shows the Cepheus molecular cloud complex as seen through the glow of carbon monoxide (CO) with Planck (blue). The same region is shown as imaged by previous CO surveys (Dame et al., 2001) for comparison (red). Image released February 13, 2012.

    All-Sky Distribution of Carbon Monoxide
    15
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration
    This all-sky image shows the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck. The inserts provide a zoomed-in view onto three individual regions on the sky where Planck has detected concentrations of CO: Cepheus, Taurus and Pegasus, respectively. Image released February 13, 2012.

    All-sky Distribution of Carbon Monoxide (CO).
    16
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration; T. Dame et al., 2001
    This all-sky image shows the distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck (blue). A compilation of previous surveys (Dame et al. (2001)), which left large areas of the sky unobserved, is shown for comparison (red). Image released February 13, 2012.

    Taurus Molecular Cloud Complex
    17
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration; T. Dame et al., 2001
    This image shows the Taurus molecular cloud complex as seen through the glow of carbon monoxide (CO) with Planck (blue). The same region is shown as imaged by previous CO surveys (Dame et al., 2001) for comparison (red). Image released February 13, 2012.

    Molecular Clouds in the Pegasus Region
    18
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration
    This image shows molecular clouds in the Pegasus region as seen through the glow of carbon monoxide (CO) with Planck (blue). Image released February 13, 2012.

    Planck’s Microwave Sky
    19
    Credit: ESA/ LFI & HFI Consortia
    This multi-frequency all-sky image of the microwave sky has been composed using data from Planck covering the electromagnetic spectrum from 30 GHz to 857 GHz. This image was released on July 5, 2010. The mottled structure of the cosmic microwave background, with its tiny temperature fluctuations reflecting the primordial density variations from which today’s cosmic structure originated, is clearly visible in the high-latitude regions of the map. The central band is the plane of our Galaxy. A large portion of the image is dominated by the diffuse emission from its gas and dust. The image was derived from data collected by Planck during its first all-sky survey and comes from observations taken between August 2009 and June 2010. This image is a low- resolution version of the full data set.

    Planck’s Orbit at L2
    20
    Credit: ESA
    Planck’s orbit around L2, the second Lagrange point of the Sun-Earth system.

    Sky Tapestry by Planck Spacecraft
    21
    Credit: ESA and the HFI Consortium, IRAS
    The image spans about 50 degrees of the sky. It is a three-colour combination constructed from Planck’s two highest frequency channels (557 and 857 GHz, corresponding to wavelengths of 540 and 350 micrometres), and an image at the shorter wavelength of 100 micrometres made by the IRAS satellite. It was released on March 17, 2010.

    Planck’s View of Orion Nebula (Close-Up)
    27
    Credit: ESA/LFI & HFI Consortia
    An active star-formation region in the Orion Nebula, as seen By Planck. This image covers a region of 13×13 degrees. It is a three-colour combination constructed from three of Planck’s nine frequency channels: 30, 353 and 857 GHz. This image was released on April 26, 2010.

    New Sky Map Could Help Reveal How Universe Formed
    28
    Credit: ESA/ LFI & HFI Consortia
    The microwave sky as seen by ESA’s Planck satellite. Light from the main disk of the Milky Way is seen across the center band, while radiation left over from the Big Bang is visible on the outskirts of the image.

    Planck View of Milky Way – Jan. 11, 2011
    29
    Credit: ESA/Planck Collaboration
    This image shows the location of the first six fields used to detect and study the Cosmic Infrared Background. The fields, named N1, AG, SP, LH2, Boötes 1 and Boötes 2, respectively, are all located at a relatively high galactic latitude, where the foreground contamination due to the Milky Way’s diffuse emission is less dramatic. It was released on Jan. 11, 2011.

    Clumps of Star-forming Cores Across the Sky
    30
    Credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
    This map illustrates the numerous star-forming clouds, called cold cores, that Planck observed throughout our Milky Way galaxy. Planck, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA participation, detected around 10,000 of these cores, thousands of which had never been seen before.

    32
    Credit: ESA/LFI & HFI Consortia
    Star-formation Region in the Constellation Perseus

    See the full article here.

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  • richardmitnick 1:11 pm on February 5, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA Planck   

    From ESA: “Planck reveals first stars were born late” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    5 February 2015
    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31 71 565 6799; +34 91 8131 199
    Mob: +31 61 594 3954
    Email: Markus.Bauer@esa.int

    Jan Tauber
    ESA Planck Project Scientist
    Tel: +31 71 565 5342
    Email: Jan.Tauber@esa.int

    François Bouchet
    Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris (CNRS/UPMC), France
    Tel: +33 1 4432 8095
    Email: bouchet@iap.fr

    Marco Bersanelli
    Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy
    Tel: +39 02 50317264
    Email: marco.bersanelli@mi.infn.it

    George Efstathiou
    University of Cambridge, UK
    Tel: +44 1223 337530
    Email: gpe@ast.cam.ac.uk

    1
    Polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background

    5 February 2015

    New maps from ESA’s Planck satellite uncover the ‘polarised’ light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought.

    The history of our Universe is a 13.8 billion-year tale that scientists endeavour to read by studying the planets, asteroids, comets and other objects in our Solar System, and gathering light emitted by distant stars, galaxies and the matter spread between them.

    A major source of information used to piece together this story is the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB, the fossil light resulting from a time when the Universe was hot and dense, only 380 000 years after the Big Bang.

    Thanks to the expansion of the Universe, we see this light today covering the whole sky at microwave wavelengths.

    Between 2009 and 2013, Planck surveyed the sky to study this ancient light in unprecedented detail. Tiny differences in the background’s temperature trace regions of slightly different density in the early cosmos, representing the seeds of all future structure, the stars and galaxies of today.

    Scientists from the Planck collaboration have published the results from the analysis of these data in a large number of scientific papers over the past two years, confirming the standard cosmological picture of our Universe with ever greater accuracy.

    “But there is more: the CMB carries additional clues about our cosmic history that are encoded in its ‘polarisation’,” explains Jan Tauber, ESA’s Planck project scientist.

    “Planck has measured this signal for the first time at high resolution over the entire sky, producing the unique maps released today.”

    2
    History of the Universe

    Light is polarised when it vibrates in a preferred direction, something that may arise as a result of photons – the particles of light – bouncing off other particles. This is exactly what happened when the CMB originated in the early Universe.

    Initially, photons were trapped in a hot, dense soup of particles that, by the time the Universe was a few seconds old, consisted mainly of electrons, protons and neutrinos. Owing to the high density, electrons and photons collided with one another so frequently that light could not travel any significant distant before bumping into another electron, making the early Universe extremely ‘foggy’.

    Slowly but surely, as the cosmos expanded and cooled, photons and the other particles grew farther apart, and collisions became less frequent.

    This had two consequences: electrons and protons could finally combine and form neutral atoms without them being torn apart again by an incoming photon, and photons had enough room to travel, being no longer trapped in the cosmic fog.

    3
    CMB polarisation: full sky and details

    Once freed from the fog, the light was set on its cosmic journey that would take it all the way to the present day, where telescopes like Planck detect it as the CMB. But the light also retains a memory of its last encounter with the electrons, captured in its polarisation.

    “The polarisation of the CMB also shows minuscule fluctuations from one place to another across the sky: like the temperature fluctuations, these reflect the state of the cosmos at the time when light and matter parted company,” says François Bouchet of the Institut d’Astrophysique de Paris, France.

    “This provides a powerful tool to estimate in a new and independent way parameters such as the age of the Universe, its rate of expansion and its essential composition of normal matter, dark matter and dark energy.”

    Planck’s polarisation data confirm the details of the standard cosmological picture determined from its measurement of the CMB temperature fluctuations, but add an important new answer to a fundamental question: when were the first stars born?

    4
    CMB polarisation: zoom

    “After the CMB was released, the Universe was still very different from the one we live in today, and it took a long time until the first stars were able to form,” explains Marco Bersanelli of Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy.

    “Planck’s observations of the CMB polarisation now tell us that these ‘Dark Ages’ ended some 550 million years after the Big Bang – more than 100 million years later than previously thought.

    “While these 100 million years may seem negligible compared to the Universe’s age of almost 14 billion years, they make a significant difference when it comes to the formation of the first stars.”

    The Dark Ages ended as the first stars began to shine. And as their light interacted with gas in the Universe, more and more of the atoms were turned back into their constituent particles: electrons and protons.

    This key phase in the history of the cosmos is known as the ‘epoch of reionisation’.

    5
    CMB polarisation: finer detail

    The newly liberated electrons were once again able to collide with the light from the CMB, albeit much less frequently now that the Universe had significantly expanded. Nevertheless, just as they had 380 000 years after the Big Bang, these encounters between electrons and photons left a tell-tale imprint on the polarisation of the CMB.

    “From our measurements of the most distant galaxies and quasars, we know that the process of reionisation was complete by the time that the Universe was about 900 million years old,” says George Efstathiou of the University of Cambridge, UK.

    “But, at the moment, it is only with the CMB data that we can learn when this process began.”

    Planck’s new results are critical, because previous studies of the CMB polarisation seemed to point towards an earlier dawn of the first stars, placing the beginning of reionisation about 450 million years after the Big Bang.

    This posed a problem. Very deep images of the sky from the NASA–ESA Hubble Space Telescope have provided a census of the earliest known galaxies in the Universe, which started forming perhaps 300–400 million years after the Big Bang.

    However, these would not have been powerful enough to succeed at ending the Dark Ages within 450 million years.

    “In that case, we would have needed additional, more exotic sources of energy to explain the history of reionisation,” says Professor Efstathiou.

    The new evidence from Planck significantly reduces the problem, indicating that reionisation started later than previously believed, and that the earliest stars and galaxies alone might have been enough to drive it.

    This later end of the Dark Ages also implies that it might be easier to detect the very first generation of galaxies with the next generation of observatories, including the James Webb Space Telescope.

    NASA Webb Telescope
    NASA/Webb

    6
    Galactic dust

    But the first stars are definitely not the limit. With the new Planck data released today, scientists are also studying the polarisation of foreground emission from gas and dust in the Milky Way to analyse the structure of the Galactic magnetic field.

    The data have also enabled new important insights into the early cosmos and its components, including the intriguing dark matter and the elusive neutrinos, as described in papers also released today.

    The Planck data have delved into the even earlier history of the cosmos, all the way to inflation – the brief era of accelerated expansion that the Universe underwent when it was a tiny fraction of a second old. As the ultimate probe of this epoch, astronomers are looking for a signature of gravitational waves triggered by inflation and later imprinted on the polarisation of the CMB.

    No direct detection of this signal has yet been achieved, as reported last week. However, when combining the newest all-sky Planck data with those latest results, the limits on the amount of primordial gravitational waves are pushed even further down to achieve the best upper limits yet.

    “These are only a few highlights from the scrutiny of Planck’s observations of the CMB polarisation, which is revealing the sky and the Universe in a brand new way,” says Jan Tauber.

    “This is an incredibly rich data set and the harvest of discoveries has just begun.”

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 1:52 pm on January 30, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , ESA Planck, keck Array South Pole   

    From ESA- “Planck: gravitational waves remain elusive” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    30 January 2015
    Markus Bauer
    ESA Science and Robotic Exploration Communication Officer
    Tel: +31-71-565-6799
    Mob: +31-61-594-3-954
    Email: Markus.Bauer@esa.int

    Jan Tauber
    ESA Planck Project Scientist
    Tel: +31-71-565-5342
    Email: Jan.Tauber@esa.int

    1
    Planck view of BICEP2 field

    Despite earlier reports of a possible detection, a joint analysis of data from ESA’s Planck satellite and the ground-based BICEP2 and Keck Array experiments has found no conclusive evidence of primordial gravitational waves.

    ESA Planck
    ESA/Planck

    BICEP 2
    BICEP2

    Keck Array
    Keck Array

    The Universe began about 13.8 billion years ago and evolved from an extremely hot, dense and uniform state to the rich and complex cosmos of galaxies, stars and planets we see today.

    An extraordinary source of information about the Universe’s history is the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB, the legacy of light emitted only 380 000 years after the Big Bang.

    Cosmic Background Radiation Planck
    CMB per Planck

    ESA’s Planck satellite observed this background across the whole sky with unprecedented accuracy, and a broad variety of new findings about the early Universe has already been revealed over the past two years.

    But astronomers are still digging ever deeper in the hope of exploring even further back in time: they are searching for a particular signature of cosmic ‘inflation’ – a very brief accelerated expansion that, according to current theory, the Universe experienced when it was only the tiniest fraction of a second old.

    This signature would be seeded by gravitational waves, tiny perturbations in the fabric of space-time, that astronomers believe would have been generated during the inflationary phase.

    Gravitational Wave Background
    Theorized gravitational wave pattern

    Interestingly, these perturbations should leave an imprint on another feature of the cosmic background: its polarisation.

    When light waves vibrate preferentially in a certain direction, we say the light is polarised.

    The CMB is polarised, exhibiting a complex arrangement across the sky. This arises from the combination of two basic patterns: circular and radial (known as E-modes), and curly (B-modes).

    Different phenomena in the Universe produce either E- or B-modes on different angular scales and identifying the various contributions requires extremely precise measurements. It is the B-modes that could hold the prize of probing the Universe’s early inflation.

    “Searching for this unique record of the very early Universe is as difficult as it is exciting, since this subtle signal is hidden in the polarisation of the CMB, which itself only represents only a feeble few percent of the total light,” says Jan Tauber, ESA’s project scientist for Planck.

    Planck is not alone in this search. In early 2014, another team of astronomers presented results based on observations of the polarised CMB on a small patch of the sky performed 2010–12 with BICEP2, an experiment located at the South Pole. The team also used preliminary data from another South Pole experiment, the Keck Array.

    They found something new: curly B-modes in the polarisation observed over stretches of the sky a few times larger than the size of the full Moon.

    The BICEP2 team presented evidence favouring the interpretation that this signal originated in primordial gravitational waves, sparking an enormous response in the academic community and general public.

    However, there is another contender in this game that can produce a similar effect: interstellar dust in our Galaxy, the Milky Way.

    3
    Planck view of Galactic dust

    The Milky Way is pervaded by a mixture of gas and dust shining at similar frequencies to those of the CMB, and this foreground emission affects the observation of the most ancient cosmic light. Very careful analysis is needed to separate the foreground emission from the cosmic background.

    Critically, interstellar dust also emits polarised light, thus affecting the CMB polarisation as well.

    “When we first detected this signal in our data, we relied on models for Galactic dust emission that were available at the time,” says John Kovac, a principal investigator of BICEP2 at Harvard University, in the USA.

    “These seemed to indicate that the region of the sky chosen for our observations had dust polarisation much lower than the detected signal.”

    The two ground-based experiments collected data at a single microwave frequency, making it difficult to separate the emissions coming from the Milky Way and the background.

    On the other hand, Planck observed the sky in nine microwave and sub-millimetre frequency channels, seven of which were also equipped with polarisation-sensitive detectors. By careful analysis, these multi-frequency data can be used to separate the various contributions.

    The BICEP2 team had chosen a field where they believed dust emission would be low, and thus interpreted the signal as likely to be cosmological.

    However, as soon as Planck’s maps of the polarised emission from Galactic dust were released, it was clear that this foreground contribution could be much higher than previously expected.

    In fact, in September 2014, Planck revealed for the first time that the polarised emission from dust is significant over the entire sky, and comparable to the signal detected by BICEP2 even in the cleanest regions.

    So, the Planck and BICEP2 teams joined forces, combining the satellite’s ability to deal with foregrounds using observations at several frequencies – including those where dust emission is strongest – with the greater sensitivity of the ground-based experiments over limited areas of the sky, thanks to their more recent, improved technology. By then, the full Keck Array data from 2012 and 2013 had also become available.

    “This joint work has shown that the detection of primordial B-modes is no longer robust once the emission from Galactic dust is removed,” says Jean-Loup Puget, principal investigator of the HFI instrument on Planck at the Institut d’Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France.

    “So, unfortunately, we have not been able to confirm that the signal is an imprint of cosmic inflation.”

    Deflecting light from the Big Bang

    Another source of B-mode polarisation, dating back to the early Universe, was detected in this study, but on much smaller scales on the sky.

    This signal, first discovered in 2013, is not a direct probe of the inflationary phase but is induced by the cosmic web of massive structures that populate the Universe and change the path of the CMB photons on their way to us.

    This effect is called ‘gravitational lensing’, since it is caused by massive objects bending the surrounding space and thus deflecting the trajectory of light much like a magnifying glass does. The detection of this signal using Planck, BICEP2 and the Keck Array together is the strongest yet.

    As for signs of the inflationary period, the question remains open.

    “While we haven’t found strong evidence of a signal from primordial gravitational waves in the best observations of CMB polarisation that are currently available, this by no means rules out inflation,” says Reno Mandolesi, principal investigator of the LFI instrument on Planck at University of Ferrara, Italy.

    In fact, the joint study sets an upper limit on the amount of gravitational waves from inflation, which might have been generated at the time but at a level too low to be confirmed by the present analysis.

    “This analysis shows that the amount of gravitational waves can probably be no more than about half the observed signal,” says Clem Pryke, a principal investigator of BICEP2 at University of Minnesota, in the USA.

    “The new upper limit on the signal due to gravitational waves agrees well with the upper limit that we obtained earlier with Planck using the temperature fluctuations of the CMB,” says Brendan Crill, a leading member of both the Planck and BICEP2 teams from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in the USA.

    “The gravitational wave signal could still be there, and the search is definitely on.”

    “A Joint Analysis of BICEP2/Keck Array and Planck Data” by the BICEP2/Keck and Planck collaboration has been submitted to the journal Physical Review Letters.
    The study combines data from ESA’s Planck satellite and from the US National Science Foundation ground-based experiments BICEP2 and the Keck Array, at the South Pole.

    The analysis is based on observations of the CMB polarisation on a 400 square degree patch of the sky. The Planck data cover frequencies between 30 GHz and 353 GHz, while the BICEP2 and Keck Array data were taken at a frequency of 150 GHz.

    A public release of Planck data products will follow next week.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

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    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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  • richardmitnick 1:13 pm on January 18, 2015 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , ESA Planck   

    From ESA: “The magnetic field along the Galactic plane” 

    ESASpaceForEuropeBanner
    European Space Agency

    15/12/2014
    No Writer Credit

    1

    While the pastel tones and fine texture of this image may bring to mind brush strokes on an artist’s canvas, they are in fact a visualisation of data from ESA’s Planck satellite. The image portrays the interaction between interstellar dust in the Milky Way and the structure of our Galaxy’s magnetic field.

    ESA Planck
    Planck

    Between 2009 and 2013, Planck scanned the sky to detect the most ancient light in the history of the Universe – the cosmic microwave background. It also detected significant foreground emission from diffuse material in our Galaxy which, although a nuisance for cosmological studies, is extremely important for studying the birth of stars and other phenomena in the Milky Way.

    Cosmic Background Radiation Planck
    CMB per Planck

    Among the foreground sources at the wavelengths probed by Planck is cosmic dust, a minor but crucial component of the interstellar medium that pervades the Galaxy. Mainly gas, it is the raw material for stars to form.

    Interstellar clouds of gas and dust are also threaded by the Galaxy’s magnetic field, and dust grains tend to align their longest axis at right angles to the direction of the field. As a result, the light emitted by dust grains is partly ‘polarised’ – it vibrates in a preferred direction – and, as such, could be caught by the polarisation-sensitive detectors on Planck.

    Scientists in the Planck collaboration are using the polarised emission of interstellar dust to reconstruct the Galaxy’s magnetic field and study its role in the build-up of structure in the Milky Way, leading to star formation.

    In this image, the colour scale represents the total intensity of dust emission, revealing the structure of interstellar clouds in the Milky Way. The texture is based on measurements of the direction of the polarised light emitted by the dust, which in turn indicates the orientation of the magnetic field.

    This image shows the intricate link between the magnetic field and the structure of the interstellar medium along the plane of the Milky Way. In particular, the arrangement of the magnetic field is more ordered along the Galactic plane, where it follows the spiral structure of the Milky Way. Small clouds are seen just above and below the plane, where the magnetic field structure becomes less regular.

    From these and other similar observations, Planck scientists found that filamentary interstellar clouds are preferentially aligned with the direction of the ambient magnetic field, highlighting the strong role played by magnetism in galaxy evolution.

    The emission from dust is computed from a combination of Planck observations at 353, 545 and 857 GHz, whereas the direction of the magnetic field is based on Planck polarisation data at 353 GHz.

    See the full article here.

    Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

    STEM Icon

    Stem Education Coalition

    The European Space Agency (ESA), established in 1975, is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the exploration of space, currently with 19 member states. Headquartered in Paris, ESA has a staff of more than 2,000. ESA’s space flight program includes human spaceflight, mainly through the participation in the International Space Station program, the launch and operations of unmanned exploration missions to other planets and the Moon, Earth observation, science, telecommunication as well as maintaining a major spaceport, the Guiana Space Centre at Kourou, French Guiana, and designing launch vehicles. ESA science missions are based at ESTEC in Noordwijk, Netherlands, Earth Observation missions at ESRIN in Frascati, Italy, ESA Mission Control (ESOC) is in Darmstadt, Germany, the European Astronaut Centre (EAC) that trains astronauts for future missions is situated in Cologne, Germany, and the European Space Astronomy Centre is located in Villanueva de la Cañada, Spain.

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