Mar 23, 2019 | Updated: 12:48 PM EDT

Fire Starter—ESA’s Planck Satellite Reveals Later Star Formations

Feb 05, 2015 09:32 PM EST

History of the Universe

Looking to gather a clearer view of the history of our Universe, researchers with the ESA's Planck satellite constructed a new image of the entire sky, utilizing Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) fossil light originating only 380,000 years after the creation of the Universe. The new sky map uncovers the polarized light from the Universe's early formation, and reveals that the first stars may have originated far later than researchers once thought.

"The history of our Universe is a 13.8 billion-year tale that scientists endeavor to read by studying the planets, asteroids, comets and other objects in our Solar System, and gathering light emitted by distant stars, galaxies and the matter spread between them" spokespersons with the ESA said this morning, Feb. 5, in a press release. "A major source of information used to piece together this story is the Cosmic Microwave Background, or CMB, the fossil light resulting from a time when the Universe was hot and dense, only 380 000 years after the Big Bang."

"Thanks to the expansion of the Universe, we see this light today covering the whole sky at microwave wavelengths."

The Planck data has enabled researchers to develop important new insights into the early formation of our Universe, leading to the new discrepancies that were released today as a result of the CMB maps. 

"After the CMB was released, the Universe was still very different from the one we live in today, and it took a long time until the first stars were able to form," ESA researcher at the Università degli Studi di Milano, Italy, Marco Bersanelli says.

"Planck's observations of the CMB polarization now tell us that these 'Dark Ages' ended some 550 million years after the Big Bang - more than 100 million years later than previously thought."

Though the 100 million year discrepancy may seem negligible in comparison to the near 14 billion year history of the Universe, what researchers have discovered creates a significant difference in the history we know. Though the sky maps and the Planck satellite's continued studies have sparked several journal articles published in last 2 years, as researchers develop a  new view of the galaxy, today's data has inspired new papers also released today describing dark matter and the ever-elusive neutrinos.

Lead by principal researchers Nazarene Mandolesi, Jean-Loup Puget and Jan Tauber with the Planck mission, the new studies utilize the most complete surveys of the entire sky to date, combining temperature maps of the CMB at all nine frequencies observable by Planck and polarization maps at another four frequencies.

Want to see what researchers have to say about the new results? Check out the new scientific papers released today by the ESA HERE.

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