NASA will host a news teleconference at 8 a.m. PDT (11 a.m. EDT), Thursday, March 21, to discuss the first cosmology results from Planck, a European Space Agency mission with significant NASA participation.
Planck launched into space in 2009 and has been scanning the skies ever since, mapping cosmic microwave background, or the afterglow, of the theoretical big bang that created the universe more than 13 billion years ago. NASA contributed mission-enabling technology for both of Planck's science instruments, and U.S., European and Canadian scientists work together to analyze the Planck data.
Questions may be submitted via Twitter using the hashtag #AskNASA .
Visuals will be posted at the start of the teleconference on NASA's Planck website: http://www.nasa.gov/planck
Audio of the teleconference will be streamed live on NASA's website at http://www.nasa.gov/newsaudio
The event will also be streamed live on Ustream at http://www.ustream.tv/nasajpl2
Planck launched in May 2009 on a mission to detect light from just a few hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, an explosive event at the dawn of the universe approximately 13.7 billion years ago. The spacecraft's state-of-the-art detectors ultimately will survey the whole sky at least four times, measuring the cosmic microwave background, or radiation left over from the Big Bang.
The data will help scientists decipher clues about the evolution, fate and fabric of our universe. Planck observes the sky at nine wavelengths of light, ranging from infrared to radio waves. Its technology has greatly improved sensitivity and resolution over its predecessor missions, NASA's Cosmic Background Explorer and Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe.
The result is a windfall of data on known and never-before-seen cosmic objects. Planck has catalogued more than 10,000 star-forming "cold cores," thousands of which are newly discovered. The cores are dark and dusty nurseries where baby stars are just beginning to take shape. They also are some of the coldest places in the universe. Planck's new catalogue includes some of the coldest cores ever seen, with temperatures as low as seven degrees above absolute zero, or minus 447 degrees Fahrenheit.
In order to see the coldest gas and dust in the Milky Way, Planck's detectors were chilled to only 0.1 Kelvin.
The data catalog contains some of the most massive clusters of galaxies known, including a handful of new ones. The most massive of these holds the equivalent of a million billion suns worth of mass, making it one of the most massive galaxy clusters.
The catalog also includes unique data on the pools of hot gas that permeate roughly 14,000 smaller clusters of galaxies; the best data yet on the cosmic infrared background, which is made up of light from stars evolving in the early universe; and new observations of extremely energetic galaxies spewing radio jets.
The Planck image above shows the bright band of our galaxy's spiral disk amidst swirling clouds where gas and dust mix together and, sometimes, ignite to form new stars. The data were taken in the so-called far-infrared portion of the light spectrum, using two of nine different frequencies available on Planck.
The Daily Galaxy via http://www.esa.int/planck