Tag Archives: cosmic microwave background

Supercomputer Helps Planck Mission Expose Ancient Light

Like archeologists carefully digging for fossils, scientists with the Planck mission are sifting through cosmic clutter to find the most ancient light in the universe.

The Planck space telescope has created the most precise sky map ever made of the oldest light known, harking back to the dawn of time. This light, called the cosmic microwave background, has traveled 13.8 billion years to reach us. It is so faint that Planck observes every point on the sky an average of 1,000 times to pick up its glow. (more…)

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‘Nuisance’ Data Lead to Surprising Star-Birth Discovery

When a batch of bright cosmic objects first appeared in maps in 2008 made with data from the South Pole Telescope, astronomers at the University of Chicago’s Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics regarded it only as an unavoidable nuisance.

The light sources interfered with efforts to measure more precisely the cosmic microwave background—the afterglow of the big bang. But the astronomers soon realized that they had made a rare find in South Pole Telescope’s large survey of the sky. The spectra of some of the bright objects, which is the rainbow of light they emit, were inconsistent with what astronomers expected from the well-known population of radio galaxies. (more…)

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NSF’s South Pole Telescope Discovers a Galaxy Cluster Creating Stars at a Record Pace

Researchers say Phoenix Cluster activity may cause scientists to rethink how galaxies evolve

A National Science Foundation-funded radio telescope in Antarctica has found an extraordinary galaxy cluster that may force astronomers to rethink how galaxy clusters and the galaxies that inhabit them evolve.

The galaxy cluster was discovered some 5.7 billion light years from Earth by the 10-meter wide South Pole Telescope (SPT) located at NSF’s Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station in Antarctica, which is funded by NSF’s Office of Polar Programs. (more…)

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Clocking an Accelerating Universe: First Results from BOSS

Berkeley Lab scientists are the leaders of BOSS, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey. They and their colleagues in the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey have announced the most precise measurements ever made of the era when dark energy turned on.

Some six billion light years distant, almost halfway from now back to the big bang, the universe was undergoing an elemental change. Held back until then by the mutual gravitational attraction of all the matter it contained, the universe had been expanding ever more slowly. Then, as matter spread out and its density decreased, dark energy took over and expansion began to accelerate.

Today BOSS, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey, the largest component of the third Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-III), announced the most accurate measurement yet of the distance scale of the universe during the era when dark energy turned on. (more…)

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Planck All-Sky Images Show Cold Gas and Strange Haze

New images from the Planck mission show previously undiscovered islands of star formation and a mysterious haze of microwave emissions in our Milky Way galaxy. The views give scientists new treasures to mine and take them closer to understanding the secrets of our galaxy.

Planck is a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA participation. (more…)

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