Launched in 2009, Planck has been gathering data on the cosmic background radiation, an extremely cold glow leftover from the Big Bang. This radiation corresponds to particles of light that were emitted just 380,000 years after the universe was born, when the first atoms were formed. At that time, the entire cosmos was filled with white hot radiation of 2,700 degrees Celsius. Over the age of the universe, the radiation has cooled to just 2.7 degrees above absolute zero. It now comes almost uniformly from every area of the sky at once.
“Planck’s data delivers a remarkable abundance of riches,” said cosmologist Krzysztof Gorski, who works on the U.S. portion of the Planck mission, during a NASA press conference Mar. 21. “We are very excited about the results as Planck gives us a chance to peek into the unknown.”