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The Milky Way and other galaxies in the microwave sky as seen by Planck

The Milky Way and other galaxies in the microwave sky as seen by Planck

Date: 05 July 2010
Satellite: Planck
Depicts: Some extragalactic sources are identified in this Planck image
Copyright: ESA, HFI and LFI consortia

Emission from gas and dust in the plane of the Milky Way dominates this multi-colour all-sky image of the microwave sky, synthesized using data spanning the full frequency range of Planck, which covers the electromagnetic spectrum from 30 to 857 GHz.

Other galactic features recognisable in the image are the Galactic Centre and the giant molecular clouds of Perseus and Orion, both of which are extremely active regions of star formation.

The Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC) and the Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC), two small satellite galaxies of the Milky Way which are also among our Galaxy's closest neighbours are clearly visible, as is the spiral galaxy M31, or Andromeda, the largest galactic neighbour of the Milky Way. The LMC lies at a distance of about 160 000 light-years from the Sun, the SMC at about 200 000 light-years and M31 at about 2.5 million light-years. All three objects, along with the Milky Way and several other galaxies, belong to the Local Group of galaxies.

In addition, Planck's ability to detect hundreds of extragalactic radio sources, both nearby and distant, is clearly evident in this image - two examples are highlighted in the northern hemisphere. Centaurus A, the most nearby giant elliptical galaxy, located about 12 million light-years away from us, is visible just above the Galactic Plane; this galaxy has an active galactic nucleus, with intense radio emission arising from jets of plasma and lobes of high-energy particles emanating from its central, supermassive black hole. Also, 3C 273, a bright radio source located at redshift z~0.15 (corresponding to a distance of about 2 thousand million light-years away) can be seen towards the northern Galactic Pole.

Last Update: 1 September 2019
23-Apr-2024 23:15 UT

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