A new press release from the European Space Agency presents some of the first new science from the planck satellite. We don’t have results from the microwave background yet – we need another 6 months to complete the second all sky survey and then a lot of time for data crunching for that – but what the new results show are exquisite images of cold dust in our own galaxy in what is the largest area submm survey so far made.
What can be seen here is the galactic plane itself – the line running horizontally across the image near the bottom – and the huge clouds of cool dust that rise far above the plane. Hints of these were first seen by the IRAS satellite, but the Planck observations are at much longer wavelengths and are thus able to find cooler dust and determine dust temperatures.
These results also highlight the synergy between Planck, which gives us the largest scale structures in the galactic dust, Herschel, which can show us smaller scale structures (see eg. here), and ground-based telescopes such as the JCMT which can work at still higher resolutions.
This is all just a taster of what Planck will produce, but there’s lots more work to be done, and observations to be made, before we get there.