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Old 07-19-2010, 02:17 PM   #46
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I was afraid so. Anyway, I've got the WMAP images already - not just the CMB image, but also the different frequency bands and even the polarisation maps. They will all feature in the next beta.
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Old 07-19-2010, 02:28 PM   #47
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I think in 2011, they will have the first mapping survey done and a full product will be released.
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Old 09-01-2010, 06:26 PM   #48
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ESA: "Recipe for water: just add starlight".

JPL: "Herschel Finds Water in a Cosmic Desert".

Astronomy Now: "Just add starlight"!

BBC News: "Old star wallows in 'steam bath'".

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Old 09-15-2010, 08:58 PM   #49
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Planck's first glimpse at galaxy clusters and a new supercluster.

Surveying the microwave sky, Planck has obtained its very first images of galaxy clusters, amongst the largest objects in the Universe, by means of the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect, a characteristic signature they imprint on the Cosmic Microwave Background. Joining forces in a fruitful collaboration between ESA missions, XMM-Newton followed up Planck's detections and revealed that one of them is a previously unknown supercluster of galaxies.

Matter in the Universe is distributed in a highly clustered fashion; stars congregate in galaxies and galaxies clump together, forming enormous clusters surrounded by vast, empty spaces. Galaxy clusters can host up to a thousand galaxies and they are permeated by hot gas that shines brightly in X-rays; furthermore, most of their mass consists of dark matter. On an even grander scale are the superclusters, large assemblies of galaxy groups and clusters, located at the intersections of sheets and filaments in the wispy cosmic web. As clusters and superclusters trace the distribution of both luminous and dark matter throughout the Universe, their observation is crucial to probe how cosmic structures formed and evolved.


Large-scale structure in the Universe.
Credit: Sloan Digital Sky Survey Team, NASA, NSF, DOE.


Planck's primary goal is to capture the most ancient light of the cosmos, the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), and for this purpose it boasts a superb set of nine frequency channels, spanning the spectral range from 30 to 857 GHz. Such a broad spectral coverage is not only instrumental in removing all sources of contamination from the CMB, in order to deliver what will be the sharpest image of the early Universe ever achieved - it also makes Planck an excellent hunter of galaxy clusters.

In fact, the nine frequency channels were carefully chosen by the Planck team with a particular phenomenon, known as the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect (SZE), very much in mind. This effect describes the change of energy experienced by CMB photons when they encounter a galaxy cluster as they travel towards us, in the process imprinting a distinctive signature on the CMB itself. Hence, the SZE represents a unique tool to detect galaxy clusters, even at high redshift.

"As the fossil photons from the Big Bang cross the Universe, they interact with the matter that they encounter: when travelling through a galaxy cluster, for example, the CMB photons scatter off free electrons present in the hot gas that fills the cluster," explains Nabila Aghanim of the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France, a leading member of the group of Planck scientists investigating SZE clusters and secondary anisotropies. "These collisions redistribute the frequencies of photons in a particular way that enables us to isolate the intervening cluster from the CMB signal."

Since the hot electrons in the cluster are much more energetic than the CMB photons, interactions between the two species typically result in the photons being scattered to higher energies. This means that, when looking at the CMB in the direction of a galaxy cluster, one observes a deficit, with respect to the average CMB signal, of low-energy photons and a surplus of more energetic ones. The threshold frequency, separating deficit and surplus, corresponds to 217 GHz. Planck's channels probe the spectrum both below and above this threshold, with one of them centred exactly on 217 GHz.


Multi-band observations of the galaxy cluster Abell 2319. (Click on the image for a larger version and further details.)
Credit: ESA/ LFI & HFI Consortia.


"With its unprecedented spectral coverage, Planck can detect both the positive and the negative signal of galaxy clusters, and is thus an exceptional tool to identify the locations of these enormous structures over the entire sky, and to measure their physical characteristics," says Jan Tauber, Planck Project Scientist, commenting on the first observations of the SZE in the Planck frequency bands. These first images include some clusters that are well known to astronomers, such as Coma, a very hot and nearby cluster extending over more than two degrees in the sky, and Abell 2319, another nearby cluster.


The Coma cluster as it appears through the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich Effect (top left) and X-ray emission (top right). The images are superimposed on a wide-field view of the region from the Digitised Sky Survey (lower two panels). (Click on the image for a larger version and further details.)

Planck's design, optimised for detecting the SZE signal from clusters scattered throughout the sky, is however not suited for in-depth investigations— its resolution is simply not sufficient to discern much detail for most of them, especially any newly discovered, high-redshift ones. Observations at other wavelengths are necessary to pin down the details of these massive structures. Since the hot gas in galaxy clusters emits copious amounts of X-rays, observations in this spectral band prove particularly useful as they probe the very same component responsible for producing the SZE.

In order to confirm their identity, Planck's cluster candidates are compared with existing catalogues of clusters, like the ROSAT all-sky X-ray catalogue of clusters. When the Planck candidates do not correspond to any known structure, and after careful quality checks of the SZ signal, they may become the target of brand new, follow-up observations with ESA's X-ray observatory, XMM-Newton.

"With its exceptional sensitivity, XMM-Newton is the ideal partner to follow-up the sources detected by Planck via the SZE," says Monique Arnaud, from the Service d'Astrophysique, Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique, France, who leads the Planck group following up sources with XMM-Newton. It is the special synergy between these two ESA missions that has allowed astronomers to use snapshot XMM-Newton observations to confirm that Planck's first detections are indeed clusters, and has revealed an even larger structure: a supercluster of galaxies.


A new supercluster, seen by Planck and XMM-Newton.
Credit: Planck image: ESA/LFI & HFI Consortia; XMM-Newton image: ESA.


"The XMM-Newton observations have shown that one of the candidate clusters is in fact a supercluster composed of at least three individual, massive clusters of galaxies, which Planck alone could not have resolved," explains Arnaud.

"The synergy between the two missions has proved extremely successful, and XMM-Newton will continue following up Planck detections in order to confirm the nature of the cluster candidates," says Norbert Schartel, XMM-Newton Project Scientist. In the future, XMM-Newton may conduct further, deeper observations of some of these clusters in order to measure their properties in greater detail.

"This is the first time that a supercluster has been discovered via the SZE," adds Aghanim. "This important discovery opens a brand new window on superclusters, one which complements the observations of the individual galaxies therein."

The SZ signal from the newly discovered supercluster arises from the sum of the signal from the three individual clusters, with a possible additional contribution from an inter-cluster filamentary structure. This provides important clues about the distribution of gas on very large scales which is, in turn, crucial also for tracing the underlying distribution of dark matter.

"These first detections, revealing both previously known clusters and brand new ones, show that Planck is working extremely well," comments Tauber. "Of course, this is only a preview of the numerous discoveries that will surely come along during the lifetime of the mission."

Notes for editors.

ESA’s Planck mission maps the sky in nine frequencies using two state-of-the-art instruments, designed to produce high-sensitivity, multi-frequency measurements of the diffuse sky radiation: the High Frequency Instrument (HFI) includes the frequency bands 100 - 857 GHz, and the Low Frequency Instrument (LFI) includes the frequency bands 30 - 70 GHz.

The first Planck all-sky survey began in mid-August 2009 and was completed in June 2010. Planck will continue to gather data until the end of 2011, during which time it will complete over four all-sky scans.

The Planck team is currently analysing the data from the first all-sky survey to identify both known and new galaxy clusters for the early Sunyaev-Zel'dovich catalogue, which will be released in January of 2011 as part of the Early Release Compact Source Catalogue. Companion scientific papers will accompany the catalogue.

The initial programme of follow-up observations using XMM-Newton, undertaken in Director's Discretionary Time, has the main goal of confirming the nature of a selected set of cluster candidates detected by Planck via the SZE.

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Old 09-20-2010, 10:40 PM   #50
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Universe Today: "Herschel Observations May Revise Our Understanding of Mars' Atmosphere".

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Old 09-21-2010, 10:55 AM   #51
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Notebook View Post
 Their pictures are good, but they hop all over the place with their direction. At least they got rid of the wobbly web-cam they had nailed to a palm-tree right next to the rocket.

Working on my theory that there is nothing more interesting to a cameraman(tv anyway) than another cameraman, I was suspicous about the control room shot. Yes there's a cameraman, in shot, at the back! Wonder if they get in-shot allowance?

N.

Your theory is correct.. I will vouch for that 100%. I don't know what it is, but I think it has something to do with the my lens is bigger than your lens syndrome.

I was at an airshow recently this summer. It was hot. We were wandering around in the water, the beach was full of hot women, there were jets blasting through the sky. Music. We had a buffet for lunch. And *ALL* I could do was pay attention to the other photographers and their equipment. Everything else was secondary.. I even took pictures of the other news cameramen and their stuff, as well as the fat lady with *3* Nikons! I kept checking up to see what they were up to. Even if it was nothing. Maybe they see something I don't?

And yet afterwards, in retrospect, the whole day was cool, with the jets, the women, the buffet, the beach, the band, and I forgot all about the camera stuff. Till now! Thanks..

---------- Post added at 05:55 AM ---------- Previous post was at 03:24 AM ----------

DAMNNN!!! SPACE IS BIIIIIGG!!!!!

I have yet to read up on these two spacecraft, and what they are doing.

Last edited by Keatah; 09-21-2010 at 10:06 AM.
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Old 09-21-2010, 10:40 PM   #52
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SpaceRef: "First Results from Herschel Mars Observations".
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Old 09-22-2010, 06:16 AM   #53
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each dot is a hundred billion stars!!! WoWWW!!!

http://oshi.esa.int/image.html?id=37...age.html?id=36
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Old 09-22-2010, 07:29 AM   #54
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Keatah View Post
 each dot is a hundred billion stars!!! WoWWW!!!

http://oshi.esa.int/image.html?id=37...age.html?id=36
"My God—it's full of stars!" . Jokes aside, it is amazing. I couldn't find anything detailing what angular area that image covered though?
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Old 09-22-2010, 08:07 AM   #55
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 "My God—it's full of stars!" . Jokes aside, it is amazing. I couldn't find anything detailing what angular area that image covered though?
referencing this chart, check exposure #28
http://hermes.sussex.ac.uk/content/hermes-survey

My girlfriend (who is actually afraid orbiter, another story for another time) says if you fold up a dollar bill in half and hold it at arms length, that is the area of sky covered by that photo. I don't know how she arrived at that conclusion, but she insists it's true.

I thought it was a tiny pinprick of the sky, like a dime on top of the Sears Tower in Chicago as seen from New York or something. But apparently it isn't *that* small.

One other thing, is there a reason why they sent Herschel and Planck to the L2 point? Is it like for space debris, or distance from radiated heat from earth? or EM noise, or what?

Last edited by Keatah; 09-22-2010 at 10:54 AM. Reason: add new info
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Old 11-05-2010, 12:42 AM   #56
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NASA JPL:
Herschel's Hidden Talent: Digging Up Magnified Galaxies

November 04, 2010

PASADENA, Calif. -- It turns out the Herschel Space Observatory has a trick up its sleeve. The telescope, a European Space Agency mission with important NASA contributions, has proven to be excellent at finding magnified, faraway galaxies. Like little kids probing patches of dirt for insects, astronomers can use these new cosmic magnifying lenses to study galaxies that are hidden in dust.

Click on image for larger version
This image composite shows a warped and magnified view of a galaxy discovered by the Herschel Space Observatory, one of five such galaxies uncovered by the infrared telescope. Image credit: ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech/Keck/SMA

"I was surprised to learn that Herschel is so good at finding these cosmic lenses," said Asantha Cooray of the University of California, Irvine. "Locating new lenses is an arduous task that involves slogging through tons of data. With Herschel, we can find a lot of them much more efficiently." Cooray is a co-author of a paper about the discovery, appearing in the Nov. 5 issue of the journal Science. The lead author is Mattia Negrello of the Open University in the United Kingdom.

A cosmic magnifying lens occurs when a massive galaxy or cluster of galaxies bends light from a more distant galaxy into a warped and magnified image. Sometimes, a galaxy is so warped that it appears as a ring -- an object known as an Einstein ring after Albert Einstein who first predicted the phenomenon, referred to as gravitational lensing. The effect is similar to what happens when you look through the bottom of a soda bottle or into a funhouse mirror.

These lenses are incredibly powerful tools for studying the properties of distant galaxies as well as the mysterious stuff -- dark matter and dark energy -- that makes up a whopping 96 percent of our universe (see http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.cfm?release=2010-272 ).

"With these lenses, we can do cosmology and study galaxies that are too distant and faint to be seen otherwise," said Cooray.

Cooray and a host of international researchers made the initial discovery using Herschel. Launched in May 2009, this space mission is designed to see longer-wavelength light than that we see with our eyes -- light in the far-infrared and submillimeter portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Scanning Herschel images of thousands of galaxies, the researchers noticed five never-before-seen objects that jumped out as exceptionally bright.

At that time, the galaxies were suspected of being magnified by cosmic lenses, but careful and extensive follow-up observations were required. Numerous ground-based telescopes around the world participated in the campaign, including the National Radio Astronomy Observatory's Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, and three telescopes in Hawaii: the W.M. Keck Observatory, the California Institute of Technology's Submillimeter Observatory, and the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory's Submillimeter Array.

The results showed that all five of the bright galaxies were indeed being magnified by foreground galaxies. The galaxies are really far away -- they are being viewed at a time when the universe was only two to four billion years old, less than a third of its current age.

The Herschel astronomers suspect that they are just scratching the surface of a much larger population of magnified galaxies to be uncovered. The images studied so far make up just two percent of the entire planned survey, a program called the Herschel Astrophysical Terahertz Large Area Survey, or Herschel-ATLAS.

"The fact that this Herschel team saw five lensed galaxies is very exciting," said Paul Goldsmith, the U.S. project scientist for Herschel at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. "This means that we can probably pick out hundreds of new lensed galaxies in the Herschel data."

The five galaxies are young and bursting with dusty, new stars. The dust is so thick, the galaxies cannot be seen at all with visible-light telescopes. Herschel can see the faint warmth of the dust, however, because it glows at far-infrared and submillimeter wavelengths. Because the galaxies are being magnified, astronomers can now dig deeper into these dusty, exotic places and learn more about what makes them tick.

Herschel is a European Space Agency cornerstone mission, with science instruments provided by consortia of European institutes and with important participation by NASA. NASA's Herschel Project Office is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for two of Herschel's three science instruments. The NASA Herschel Science Center, part of the Infrared Processing and Analysis Center at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, supports the U.S. astronomical community. Caltech manages JPL for NASA.

More information and images are online at http://www.herschel.caltech.edu , http://www.nasa.gov/herschel and http://www.esa.int/SPECIALS/Herschel/index.html .
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Old 01-05-2011, 12:14 AM   #57
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ESA:
Call for Media: briefing on first results from ESA’s Planck mission

4 January 2011

{...}

The media briefing will take place at the Planétarium, Cité des Sciences, Paris, France on 11 January from 12:00 to 13:30 CET. Doors open at 11:45 CET.

Scientists from ESA and several European astronomy institutes will present the first data and results from ESA’s Planck mission. The Early Release Compact Source Catalogue contains thousands of sources detected by Planck from radio to far-infrared wavelengths, ranging from dense, cold clouds embedded in nearby star-forming regions to distant, supermassive clusters of galaxies.

Planck’s goal is to make the most accurate measurements to date of the ‘cosmic microwave background radiation’, a rippling glow covering the whole sky, left over from a time just 380 000 years after the Big Bang created the expanding Universe. With these measurements, we expect to be able to learn much about the birth, early evolution and ultimate fate of the Universe.

However, there are many other objects in the Universe giving out light at the same wavelengths, including cold dust, hot gas and electrons swirling in magnetic fields. All of this emission must be identified and removed before Planck can achieve its ultimate goal of measuring the cosmic microwave background with unprecedented sensitivity and sharpness. The 11 January release of the catalogue is an important step by the Planck scientists in this direction.

Fortunately, this ‘contamination’ is not just thrown away: it is a scientific treasure trove for astronomers across the world to uncover in the coming years, as we shall learn at this media briefing.

Early results gleaned from the catalogue include the first imaging of galaxies clustering in the distant Universe, seen through subtle variations in the cosmic infrared background; the detection of the coldest objects in our Milky Way; and the identification and quantification of sources of microwave emission spread across our own Milky Way – so far only suspected.

{...}

Planck First Data and Results Media Briefing, 11 January 2011

Planétarium, Cité des Sciences, 26 avenue Corentin Cariou, 75019 Paris

Programme
Time
Event
11:45 Doors open
12:00
 
Welcome - Mark McCaughrean, Head, Research & Scientific Support Department ESA Directorate of Science and Robotic Exploration
12:05
 
Planck and space research in France - Fabienne Casoli, Head of Study and Exploration of the Universe, CNES (French space agency)
12:10
 
Planck’s first data product: the Early Release Compact Source Catalogue - Jan Tauber, ESA Planck Project Scientist
12:20
 
Planck observations of galaxy clusters, building blocks of the Universe - Nabila Aghanim, Université Paris Sud & CNRS
12:30
 
Planck observes the integrated light from the most distant galaxies - Jean-Loup Puget, Université Paris Sud & CNRS
12:40
 
Planck sheds new light on mysterious components of the Milky Way - Clive Dickinson, University of Manchester
12:50Questions & Answers - Opportunity for individual interviews
13:30End of programme
Moderator: Markus Bauer (ESA)
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Old 01-11-2011, 06:34 PM   #58
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ESA:
Planck’s new view of the cosmic theatre

11 January 2011

ESA PR-3 2011 The first scientific results from ESA’s Planck mission were released at a press briefing today in Paris. The findings focus on the coldest objects in the Universe, from within our Galaxy to the distant reaches of space.

If William Shakespeare were an astronomer living today, he might write that “All the Universe is a stage, and all the galaxies merely players.” Planck is bringing us new views of both the stage and players, revealing the drama of the evolution of our Universe.

Following the publication by ESA of the first full-sky Planck image in July last year, today sees the release of the first scientific results from the mission.

These results are being presented by the Planck Collaboration at a major scientific conference in Paris this week, based on 25 papers submitted to the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.

Click on the image to view its larger version
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.
Credits: ESA/Planck Collaboration


The basis of many of these results is the Planck mission’s ‘Early Release Compact Source Catalogue’, the equivalent of a cast list.

Drawn from Planck’s continuing survey of the entire sky at millimetre and submillimetre wavelengths, the catalogue contains thousands of very cold, individual sources which the scientific community is now free to explore.

“This is a great moment for Planck. Until now, everything has been about collecting data and showing off their potential. Now, at last, we can begin the discoveries,” says Jan Tauber, ESA Project Scientist for Planck.

We can think of the Universe as a stage on which the great cosmic drama plays out over three acts.

Visible-light telescopes see little more than the final act: the tapestry of galaxies around us. But by making measurements at wavelengths between the infrared and radio, Planck is able to work back in time and show us the preceding two acts. The results released today contain important new information about the middle act, when the galaxies were being assembled.

Planck has found evidence for an otherwise invisible population of galaxies shrouded in dust billions of years in the past, which formed stars at rates some 10–1000 times higher than we see in our own Galaxy today. Measurements of this population had never been made at these wavelengths before. “This is a first step, we are just learning how to work with these data and extract the most information,” says Jean-Loup Puget, CNRS-Université Paris Sud, Orsay, France.

Eventually, Planck will show us the best views yet of the Universe’s first act: the formation of the first large-scale structures in the Universe, where the galaxies were later born. These structures are traced by the cosmic microwave background radiation, released just 380 000 years after the Big Bang, as the Universe was cooling.

However, in order to see it properly, contaminating emission from a whole host of foreground sources must first be removed. These include the individual objects contained in the Early Release Compact Source Catalogue, as well as various sources of diffuse emission.

Click on the image to view its larger version
The colour composite of the Rho Ophiuchus molecular cloud highlights the correlation between the anomalous microwave emission, most likely due to miniature spinning dust grains observed at 30 GHz (shown here in red), and the thermal dust emission, observed at 857 GHz (shown here in green). The complex structure of knots and filaments, visible in this cloud of gas and dust, represents striking evidence for the ongoing processes of star formation. The composite image (right) is based on three individual maps (left) taken at 0.4 GHz from Haslam et al. (1982) and at 30 GHz and 857 GHz by Planck, respectively. The size of the image is about 5 degrees on a side, which is about 10 times the apparent diameter of the full Moon.
Credits: ESA/Planck Collaboration


Today, an important step towards removing this contamination was also announced. The ‘anomalous microwave emission’ is a diffuse glow most strongly associated with the dense, dusty regions of our Galaxy, but its origin has been a puzzle for decades.

However, data collected across Planck’s unprecedented wide wavelength range confirm the theory that it is coming from dust grains set spinning at several tens of billion times a second by collisions with either fast-moving atoms or packets of ultraviolet light.

This new understanding helps to remove this local microwave ‘fog’ from the Planck data with greater precision, leaving the cosmic microwave background untouched.

“This is a great result made possible by the exceptional quality of the Planck data,” says Clive Dickinson, University of Manchester, UK.

Click on the image to view its larger version
This image shows one of the newly discovered superclusters of galaxies, PLCK G214.6+37.0, detected by Planck and confirmed by XMM-Newton. This is the first supercluster to be discovered through its Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect. The effect is the name for the cluster’s silhouette against the cosmic microwave background radiation. Combined with other observations, the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect allows astronomers to measure properties such as the temperature and density of the cluster’s hot gas where the galaxies are embedded. The right panel shows the X-ray image of the supercluster obtained with XMM-Newton, which reveals that three galaxy clusters comprise this supercluster. The bright orange blob in the left panel shows the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich image of the supercluster, obtained by Planck. The X-ray contours are also superimposed on the Planck image.
Credits: ESA/Planck Collaboration; XMM-Newton image: ESA


Among the many other results presented today, Planck has shown new details of yet other actors on the cosmic stage: distant clusters of galaxies. These show up in the Planck data as compact silhouettes against the cosmic microwave background.

The Planck Collaboration has identified 189 so far, including 20 previously unknown clusters that are being confirmed by ESA’s XMM-Newton X-ray observatory.

By surveying the whole sky, Planck stands the best chance of finding the most massive examples of these clusters. They are rare and their number is a sensitive probe of the kind of Universe we live in, how fast it is expanding, and how much matter it contains.

“These observations will be used as bricks to build our understanding of the Universe,” says Nabila Aghanim, CNRS-Université Paris Sud, Orsay, France.

“Today’s results are the tip of the scientific iceberg. Planck is exceeding expectations thanks to the dedication of everyone involved in the project,” says David Southwood, ESA Director of Science and Robotic Exploration.

“However, beyond those announced today, this catalogue contains the raw material for many more discoveries. Even then, we haven’t got to the real treasure yet, the cosmic microwave background itself.”

Planck continues to survey the Universe. Its next data release is scheduled for January 2013 and will reveal the cosmic microwave background in unprecedented detail, the opening act of the cosmic drama, a picture of the beginning of everything.

{...}
________________________________________


NASA JPL: Planck Mission Peels Back Layers of the Universe.

Astronomy Now: Planck unveils first science results.
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Old 02-18-2011, 03:31 AM   #59
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Default Herschel finds less dark matter but more stars

ESA: Herschel finds less dark matter but more stars

16 February 2011

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has discovered a population of dust-enshrouded galaxies that do not need as much dark matter as previously thought to collect gas and burst into star formation.

The galaxies are far away and each boasts some 300 billion times the mass of the Sun. The size challenges current theory that predicts a galaxy has to be more than ten times larger, 5000 billion solar masses, to be able form large numbers of stars.

Herschel's target: the so-called Lockman Hole
The calculated distribution of dark matter

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Old 04-13-2011, 08:09 PM   #60
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ESA:
Herschel links star formation to sonic booms

13 April 2011

ESA’s Herschel space observatory has revealed that nearby interstellar clouds contain networks of tangled gaseous filaments. Intriguingly, each filament is approximately the same width, hinting that they may result from interstellar sonic booms throughout our Galaxy.

The filaments are huge, stretching for tens of light years through space and Herschel has shown that newly-born stars are often found in the densest parts of them. One filament imaged by Herschel in the Aquila region contains a cluster of about 100 infant stars.

Such filaments in interstellar clouds have been glimpsed before by other infrared satellites, but they have never been seen clearly enough to have their widths measured. Now, Herschel has shown that, regardless of the length or density of a filament, the width is always roughly the same.

Click on images to enlarge
Dense filaments of gas in the IC5146 interstellar cloud. This image was taken by ESA’s Herschel space observatory at infrared wavelengths 70, 250 and 500 microns. Stars are forming along these filaments.
Credits: ESA/Herschel/SPIRE/PACS/D. Arzoumanian (CEA Saclay) for the “Gould Belt survey” Key Programme Consortium.
The network of interstellar filaments in Polaris as imaged by ESA’s Herschel space observatory at infrared wavelengths 250, 350 and 500 microns. These filaments are not yet forming stars.
Credits: ESA/Herschel/SPIRE/Ph. André (CEA Saclay) for the Gould Belt survey Key Programme Consortium and A. Abergel (IAS Orsay) for the Evolution of Interstellar Dust Key Programme Consortium.
The gigantic telescope of ESA’s Herschel infrared space observatory as it was being prepared for assembly with its spacecraft. Herschel uses the largest mirror ever flown in space.
Credits: ESA

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