Planck also has detected a mysterious haze of microwaves that presently defies explanation.
It comes from the region surrounding the galactic center and looks like a form of energy called synchrotron emission. This is produced when electrons pass through magnetic fields after having been accelerated by supernova explosions.
The curiosity is that the synchrotron emission associated with the galactic haze exhibits different characteristics from the synchrotron emission seen elsewhere in the Milky Way.
The galactic haze shows what astronomers call a "harder" spectrum: Its emission does not decline as rapidly with increasing energies.
Several explanations have been proposed for this unusual behavior, including higher supernova rates, galactic winds, and even the annihilation of dark matter particles.
So far, none of them has been confirmed.
“The results achieved thus far by Planck on the galactic haze and on the carbon monoxide distribution provide us with a fresh view on some interesting processes taking place in our galaxy,” said Jan Tauber, ESA’s project scientist for Planck.
Planck’s primary goal is to observe the cosmic microwave background (CMB), the relic radiation from the Big Bang, and to measure its encoded information about the constituents of the universe and the origin of cosmic structure.
But the CMB can only be reached once all sources of foreground emission, such as the galactic haze and the carbon monoxide signals, have been identified and removed.
“The lengthy and delicate task of foreground removal provides us with prime datasets that are shedding new light on hot topics in galactic and extragalactic astronomy alike,” said Tauber. “We look forward to characterizing all foregrounds and then being able to reveal the CMB in unprecedented detail.”
Planck’s first cosmological dataset is expected to be released in 2013.