The Universe, Summed Up in a Squiggly Line

Planck_planck13-001f_1024

planck_planck13-001f March 21st, 2013

Credit: ESA and the Planck Collaboration

This graph shows the temperature differences in the oldest light in the universe, called the cosmic microwave background, detected by Planck at different distances apart on the sky. The curve is known as the power spectrum. The largest distances, or angular scales, starting at angles of 90 degrees, are shown on the left side of the graph, whereas smaller and smaller scales are shown toward the right. For comparison, the diameter of the full moon in our sky measures about half a degree.

Planck was able to capture the region between 0.5 and .05 degrees with far greater precision than its predecessors, revealing new information about basic traits of our universe.

The red dots correspond to measurements made with Planck; these are shown with error bars that account for measurement errors as well as for estimated uncertainties due to the limited number of points in the sky where it is possible to perform measurements. This so-called cosmic variance is an unavoidable effect that becomes most significant at larger angular scales.

The green curve shown in the graph represents the best fit of the "standard model of cosmology" -- currently the most widely accepted scenario for the origin and evolution of the universe -- to the Planck data. The pale green area around the curve shows the predictions of all the variations of the standard model that best agree with the data.

While the observations on small and intermediate angular scales agree extremely well with the model predictions, the fluctuations detected on large angular scales on the sky -- between 90 and six degrees -- are about 10 percent weaker than the best fit of the standard model to Planck data. At angular scales larger than six degrees, there is one data point that falls well outside the range of allowed models. These anomalies suggest that some aspects of the standard model of cosmology may need rethinking.

Planck is a European Space Agency mission, with significant participation from NASA. NASA's Planck Project Office is based at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif. JPL contributed mission-enabling technology for both of Planck's science instruments. European, Canadian and U.S. Planck scientists work together to analyze the Planck data.

Image Source: http://planck.ipac.caltech.edu/image/planck13-001f

Curator: NASA Planck Science Center, Pasadena, CA, USA

Image Use Policy: Public Domain

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Image Type
Chart
Subject - Distant Universe
Cosmology > Morphology > Cosmic Background
Planck_planck13-001f_1280
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ID
planck13-001f
Subject Category
D.6.1.3  
Subject Name
Credits
ESA and the Planck Collaboration
Release Date
2013-03-21
Lightyears
Redshift
Reference Url
http://planck.ipac.caltech.edu/image/planck13-001f
Type
Chart
Image Quality
Good
Distance Notes
Facility
Instrument
Color Assignment
Band
Bandpass
Central Wavelength
Start Time
Integration Time
Dataset ID
Notes
Coordinate Frame
Equinox
Reference Value
Reference Dimension
Reference Pixel
Scale
Rotation
Coordinate System Projection:
Quality
FITS Header
Notes
Creator (Curator)
NASA Planck Science Center
URL
http://planck.ipac.caltech.edu
Name
Email
Telephone
Address
1200 E. California Blvd.
City
Pasadena
State/Province
CA
Postal Code
91125
Country
USA
Rights
Public Domain
Publisher
Publisher ID
planck
Resource ID
Resource URL
/image/planck/planck13-001f
Related Resources
Metadata Date
2018-01-19T01:58:46Z
Metadata Version
1.2
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