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Peering into the heart of the Milky Way

15 May 2018 Astronomy Now

Data from ESA’s Planck spacecraft and the European Southern Observatory’s international APEX experiment are combined to produce a unique view across the entire plane of the Milky Way galaxy showing details large and small, from the galactic core to its outer neighbourhoods.

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Galaxies like grains of sand, courtesy of Planck

19 February 2018 Astronomy Now

The Hubble Space Telescope imaged a distant cluster of galaxies that was found by ESA’s Planck satellite, which detected distortions in the cosmic background radiation caused by the cluster’s gravity. Some five billion light years from Earth, the cluster’s members appear as a swarm of red-shifted galaxies, along with an arc of bluish light caused by gravitational lensing.


Supercomputer comes up with profile of dark matter

3 November 2016 Astronomy Now

In the search for the mysterious dark matter, physicists have used elaborate computer calculations to come up with an outline of the particles of this unknown form of matter. The scientists extended the successful Standard Model of particle physics which allowed them, among other things, to predict the mass of so-called axions, promising candidates for dark matter.


The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate — or is it?

21 October 2016 Astronomy Now

Five years ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, in the late 1990s, that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace. Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept.


First stars formed even later than previously thought

2 September 2016 Astronomy Now

ESA’s Planck satellite has revealed that the first stars in the universe started forming later than previous observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background indicated. This new analysis also shows that these stars were the only sources needed to account for reionising atoms in the cosmos, having completed half of this process when the universe had reached an age of 700 million years.

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The spider in the loop

23 June 2016 Astronomy Now

This multicoloured swirl of yellow and blue shows a prominent ring of gas near the North Celestial Pole. The pole appears to be fixed in place, while the rest of the night sky slowly circles around it because of Earth’s rotation. This image comes courtesy of ESA’s Planck satellite, which spent years mapping the entire sky in exquisite detail between 2009 and 2013.

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Herschel reveals a ribbon of future stars

30 March 2016 Astronomy Now

Star formation is taking place all around us. The Milky Way is laced with clouds of dust and gas that could become the nursery of the next generation of stars. Thanks to ESA’s Herschel Space Observatory, we can now look inside these clouds and see what is truly going on. This image shows a cold cloud filament, known to astronomers as G82.65-2.00.