Milky Way humming in mysterious haze

By | February 16, 2012

Milky Way humming in mysterious haze

A European space observatory has discovered previously unknown islands of star formation and a haze of microwave radiations in our galaxy, the source of which is a complete mystery.

The Planck space observatory was launched in 2009 to analyse small fluctuations in the omnipresent cosmic microwave background (CMB) – complementing data gathered by NASA’s Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.

To understand the structure of the CMB is to open a window on the conditions immediately after the Big Bang. This extremely faint radiation is the ancient “echo†of the creation of the Universe over 14 billion years ago. The Discovery News reported.

However, Planck’s toolkit is not limited to measuring ancient microwaves from the dawn of time, it is also building an all-sky map of Milky Way. To remove the microwave radiation being emitted from our galaxy, a very accurate survey of microwave sources within our cosmic backyard is required to be conducted.

And it is this survey that’s bringing up a number of surprises.

On Monday, at an international conference in Bologna, Italy, Planck scientists presented the intermediate results from the mission ahead of its first cosmological dataset expected to be released in 2013.

“The images reveal two exciting aspects of the galaxy in which we live,†said Planck scientist Krzysztof M. Gorski from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., and Warsaw University Observatory in Poland.

“They show a haze around the center of the galaxy, and cold gas where we never saw it before.â€

This microwave “haze†is being emitted from a region surrounding the Milky Way’s heart.

Typically, this kind of emission would be expected from regions that have experienced supernova activity. However, the microwaves detected have a “harder†spectrum, basically implying that the microwave emission is unusually energetic.

When contrasted with the microwave radiation elsewhere in our galaxy, the galactic core’s emission is a real peculiarity. …

via Milky Way humming in mysterious haze | Discovery Online.

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