Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Planck telescope observes cosmic giants

Cluster in Planck data (Planck Consortium)The Planck space telescope has identified some of the largest structures ever seen in the Universe.

These are clusters of galaxies that are gravitationally bound to each other and which measure tens of millions of light-years across.

Astronomers say the Planck observatory has made more than 20 detections that are brand new to science.

The European Space Agency telescope has also confirmed the existence of a further 169 galaxy clusters.

Follow-up studies have hinted at the great scale of these structures.

"The clusters contain up to a hundred galaxies, and each galaxy has a billion stars," said Dr Nabila Aghanim of the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale in Orsay, France.

The clusters, sighted in all directions, range out to about four billion light-years from Earth.

Astronomers are interested in such observations because they say something about the way the Universe is built on the grandest scales - how matter is organised into vast filaments and sheets and separated by great voids. ...

via BBC News - Planck telescope observes cosmic giants.

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