Monday, July 5, 2010

Fantastic European Space Agency photo shows light from the time of the Big Bang [Astronomy]

Oh, the joy this photo brings me. It was taken by the European Space Agency’s Planck telescope over the period of a year, and it shows, among other treasures, some of the oldest light in the universe. We’re talking light from right around the time of the Big Bang, light that’s 13.7 billion years old. I dare you to look at this and not be completely amazed.

A little big of explanation may be necessary.

The center disc-like structure? That’s the Milk Way—that’s us! If you look closely, you can see me collecting flowers in Red Dead Redemption.

Off toward the right are the stars that make up the Orion constellation. To the left, Perseus.

Now, here’s where it gets good. You see the comparatively sparse areas on the top and bottom? That would cosmic background microwave radiation, present since the time of the Big Bang.

Tremendous in every sense of the word.

Back to flower collecting…

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