Telescope captures first light of universe

Last Updated: Fri, Mar 22, 2013 05:50 hrs

Paris, March 22 (IANS/EFE) The Planck space telescope has captured an image of the residual glow from the Big Bang, the European Space Agency reported Thursday.

This is an image with more detail than has ever been captured before of the cosmic microwave background radiation, which originated about 380,000 years after the Big Bang, the explosion amid which the universe began 13.8 billion years ago.

"For cosmologists, this map is a goldmine of information," George Efstathiou, director of the Kavli Institute for Cosmology at the University of Cambridge and one of Planck's lead researchers, said of the data.

This first light, which has been traveling through space for some 13.4 billion years and cooling the entire time, now has a temperature of just 2.7 degrees Kelvin (minus 273 C).

Nevertheless, the light shows very tiny fluctuations in its density corresponding to the "seeds" from which stars and galaxies later formed.

The unique photograph was obtained after processing data obtained over the past 2 1/2 years by the Planck telescope launched in May 2009 aboard an Ariane 5 rocket from French Guiana to map the cosmos and analyze its origins.

The telescope is positioned at a location in space known as the Earth/Sun L2 Lagrange point some 1.5 million km from Earth.



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