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New images published from Planck Space Observatory

26 Apr 2010

Spectacular new images of the Orion Nebula, Milky Way and Seven Sisters star cluster have been published by the Planck Space Observatory.

The constellation of Perseus.
The constellation of Perseus.

The orbiting telescope, launched in 2009 by the European Space Agency, show the objects as they have never been seen before, revealing the gas and dust between the stars.

University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics is one of the teams to provide the equipment used to generate the images.

In visible light most of the newly born stars in the milky way are hidden by clouds of tiny dust particles dispersed between the stars.

But when observed at much longer wavelengths the picture is very different, demonstrated by the new images from ESA's Planck mission.

The dust is no longer a dark shroud, but shines out in its own right, and new aspects of our Galaxy are revealed.

Prof Richard Davis of the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics says "The real power of Planck is the combination of the High and Low Frequency Instruments which allow us, for the first time, to disentangle the three foregrounds.

“This is of interest in its own right but also enables us to see the Cosmic Microwave Background far more clearly".

Image One:Orion
The image  shows the interstellar medium in a region of the Orion Nebula where stars are actively forming in large numbers. The red curved line is known as Barnard’s loop and the Blue and green parts are colder interstellar dust.

Image two: Constellation of Perseus
A band, in the top part of the image  clearly shows the milky way. The red in the centre is the California Nebula which glows brightly at radio wavelengths. And a light blue clump closed to the bottom of the picture is Seven Sisters star cluster or Pleiades.

Notes for editors

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For Jodrell Bank media enquires contact:

Mike Addelman
Media Relations
Faculty of Humanities
The University of Manchester
0161 275 0790
07717 881567