New images captured by the European Space Agency (ESA) Planck mission space telescope have revealed a mysterious haze of microwave emissions in the Milky Way Galaxy.
“The images reveal two exciting aspects of the galaxy in which we live. They show a haze around the center of the galaxy, and cold gas where we never saw it before.” said Planck scientist Krzysztof M. Gorski.
“We’re puzzled though, because this haze is brighter at shorter wavelengths than similar light emitted elsewhere in the galaxy,” Gorski added.
Scientists have offered several explanations for this unusual behavior but none of them are for certain.
“Theories include higher numbers of supernovae, galactic winds and even the annihilation of dark-matter particles,” said another Planck scientist Greg Dobler.
The second all-sky image is the first map to show carbon monoxide over the whole sky.
Astronomers can use carbon monoxide to identify the clouds of hydrogen where stars are born.
Planck scans allow astronomers to detect the gas where they weren’t expecting to find it.
The Planck telescope, which was launched in 2009, has been on a mission to map the oldest light in the universe.
The telescope was sent on a quest to detect the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), which was the ‘first light’ to expand across space.
Scientists say the observatory has gathered much valuable information since 2009 and has far completed its mission goals.
In one of its recent detections, Planck identified clusters of galaxies that are some of the largest structures ever seen in the universe.
Astronomers at the European Space Agency announced in January that the Planck space telescope’s mission is coming to an end as it has run out of helium coolant.
ESA engineers say the observatory can still use its Low Frequency Instrument for another six to nine months.
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