Another step towards the answer to life, the universe and everything?

Please welcome our friend custador, a long time outspoken commentator here at UF.

This is an early result from six months of work from the European Space Agency’s (ESA’s) Planck telescope – a map of the oldest light visible from Earth orbit.

I’m going to put my hand up and admit right now that I have no idea how to interpret that image – but I still find it incredibly exciting to think that it represents light that was emitted just 380,000 years after the big-bang.

Full story on the BBC News site

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  • Ty

    Hey, I can see my house from there!

    All kidding aside, I share your fascination with these early universe measurements. This picture is gorgeous.

    • wazza

      actually, terra and sol are basically the only part of the universe that doesn’t show up in this.

      • Francesc

        of the visible universe ;-)

  • WMDKitty

    I haven’t the first clue what to make of it, but I DO know it’s beautiful!

    • Olaf

      It is a panoramic image of all the stars and background radiation we can see from Earth.
      The blue-like filaments is the stars in our own galaxy blocking the view of the universe.

      • WMDKitty

        I SO want this on a poster.

  • Sock

    I saw this the first time on Through the Wormhole with Morgan Freeman.

    Great show, if you haven’t watched it.

  • Larian LeQuella

    If you don’t know how to interpret this image, all I can do is encourage you to find out and learn. It will blow you away even more than just being a pretty picture!

    You recommend Dr. Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy blog for that task:

    As much as I want to recommend Through The Wormhole, I can’t give it a resounding recommendation. If you have been a science geek all your life, then you will catch that the show is just a light glossing of the material, as well as rehashing a lot of stuff with very little new material. And it spends more time dodging some tough questions instead of answering them as the adverts would lend you to think.

  • Dorene Braun

    Does anyone else see a face on the lower left?

    • Jerdog

      Oh great. So much for sleeping tonight…

    • Kodie

      When you see it, you’ll sh*t bricks!

      • Mike

        Spooky. And what about the image of God in the right half? OK, it’s turned sideways and you have to squint a bit, BUT IT’S DEFINITELY THERE! Proof at last!

        • Custador

          That’s me converted.

    • Yoav

      I can actually see a full image of a man sitting where the red colored section branches on the bottom right. Much more impressive then the burnt toast JC managed.

  • Peter Cross

    I’m going to put my hand up and admit right now that I have no idea how to interpret that image

    No surprise since it a false colour image, as are many scientific and especially astronomic images these days. I get annoyed when such images are posted without the info that they are alse colour, let alone with a description of which colour represents what.

    • Custador

      I’m sorry, but… Just to clarify: You want an image produced by a telescope operating with light of such low energy (i.e. high wavelength) that the human eye cannot see it to carry a false-colour disclaimer…. Here’s the thing: Anybody intelligent enough to grasp what the image actually is really doesn’t need that pointed out to them – since they’ll already know that the telescope is operating with light of such low energy (i.e. high wavelength) that the human eye cannot see it.

      Just a thought…

      • Dorene Braun

        Wow. You’re giving people too much credit–or not enough credit. Not everyone has taken the time to learn about this sort of thing. Many, many intelligent people couldn’t tell you how images like this are generated.

        Sure would hate to run into you at the moment when I encounter something I’m not educated about. Would you call me stupid rather than explain it to me?

        • Custador

          On the other hand, it does point out what cosmic background is on the linked story….

      • Kodie

        I agree with Dorene — there’s a lot about science I don’t know. I don’t know how they did this, or what it’s supposed to mean without a simplistic explanation of what I’m looking at. It’s kind of elitist to say anyone with half a brain should be able to fill in the steps to how the image was created. On one side you have dummies who think the universe is pink and purple, and on the other hand, you have people who assume everyone knows what a telescope operating with light of low energy equates to and shouldn’t need any help.

        I guess that if I extended my half a useless brain to think about it, I would say on a map of the United States, New York is not really yellow and Massachusetts is not really orange, and the Atlantic Ocean is not really blue. But I’m not inclined to put 2 and 2 together that quickly in matters of serious science. If I can’t see it with the naked eye, and it took brilliant scientists 6 months to map this image, without any further instruction, I’m inclined to think what they came up with is actually pink and purple.

        • Olaf

          It is a complete picture of what we would see if we would shut down the sun and only see the stars in all possible wavelengths with very sensitive eyes all around you in a 360×180 panorama.
          The false colours are needed since no eyes can see that many different colours and is not that sensitive.

        • Olaf

          The 6 months is needed to image the stars at the other side of the sun, so they had to wait until Earth moved to the other side so they could map the rest. The sun is too bright for the sensitive equipment so it could damage the equipment when looking a bit in the direction of the sun.

    • Olaf

      For those that want to know about the Cosmic Background radiation. In the image it is the red-yellow parts clearly seen at the top and bottom and obscured by the milky way.

      The red-yellow parts is basically the big bang remnants you see which gave a clue to scientist discovering the big bang. Back then the scientists only could detect the noise through radio telescopes, here you see it actually imaged with modern equipment.

      The red-yellow parts are very minute temperature fluctuations.

      The Cosmic Background radiation is oldest and furthest point we can see.

      Interestingly if you would transport over-there and look back then you would see the exact same thing as we see here. Light from 13.7 billion years ago here is barely reaching that place yet.