Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

Planck moving forward

July 6, 2010

It’s rather ironic that the massively successful press release of the Planck all-sky maps came out yesterday when many Planck scientists were in Paris at the ‘Core Team’ meeting. I would have been there myself, and would have missed the chance of appearing on the BBC, if I hadn’t had to be at Imperial for an examiners’ meeting.

Now I’m at the core team meeting, seeing the latest work on Planck. There’s a lot of work being done and a lot of good things coming. Yesterday’s images are just a start, but we have a huge amount of work to do before things are finished.

New Results: First All Sky Images from Planck!

July 5, 2010

ESA today released the first all sky images from Planck. The first all sky survey was completed a few months ago, but it’s taken some time to get things processed to the stage where we can release images. So here it is – Planck’s first view of the whole sky!

The image is dominated by the dust in our own galaxy, seen in blue, but in the top left and bottom right you can see a more mottled structure which is the cosmic microwave background. The next all sky survey, currently being observed, and a lot of processing are needed to remove the foreground galactic emission and the emission of intervening galaxies and galaxy clusters before we can get a clear picture of the microwave background. That’s the point at which we will be able to see the exciting new results on cosmology that will come from Planck.

There’s a lot more to come as well, as this image shows, with information on our own galaxy and others. This overlay shows some more information about what we’re seeing and highlights well known objects and parts of the sky, as well as images already released from Planck.

More coverage available from ESA and the BBC.

Planck images of our Galaxy

March 17, 2010

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.

New Year, New Science

January 7, 2010

Planck is the top item in Nature‘s look at key events that may come from reserahc in 2010:

‘Planck peaks at the Universe’s Origin… Planck… could alter theories about the origin and structure of the early universe’.

I’m not sure we’ll be releasing too many results in 2010, but it’s good to see the scientific potential of Planck recognized in Nature‘s list!

News from Herschel and the UK

October 2, 2009

New images from Herschel have been released today. You can read about them and about some worries about future UK astronomy funding over on our sister Herschel mission blog.

In the News

September 18, 2009

Various news outlets have picked up on the Planck press release. These include:

The Telegraph who even quote me!

The Times

AFP via Google



And I’m sure there will be more. Anybody who spots something please add to the list via a comment!

Number one!

September 17, 2009

Thanks to all the slashdotters for making this blog the Number 1 Fastest Growing Blog on WordPress today!

I am seriously impressed!

ETA: And here’s the proof!

First Results from Planck Released!

September 17, 2009

ESA has just announced the first results form the Planck satellite. The ESA release can be found here and some more images and information (if you can read French) can be found here, and similar extra details are also on the UK Planck site here. My colleague Andrew Jaffe also has his take on things here.

These first images of strips of the sky look great, and are visibly better than those from WMAP, the previous NASA CMB satellite. We have a lot more work to do to cover the entire sky. Only then can we start to look at the details of the microwave background and the Big Bang physics that this allows us to probe. But this is a great start to things!

The Planck First Light Survey

Press Release Imminent!

September 17, 2009

There should be a Planck press release later today, showing images from the first look survey.

Watch this space for more news and links to the images once ESA has released them. All I can say for the moment is that things are looking good!

Nearly ready!

July 5, 2009

Planck is now officially the coolest place in the known universe with the detectors for the High Frequency Instrument now at their operating temperature of 100mK – just 0.1 degree above absolute zero. The spacecraft is also nearly at its destination, with the final maneuvering burn made to set it in orbit around the L2 point, 1.5 million kilometers from Earth.

Science observations coming soon!