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Planck highlights the complexity of star formation

27 Apr 2010, 17:41 UTC
Planck highlights the complexity of star formation
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The region of sky covered by the Planck images is shown on a view of
half the sky as seen in visible and infrared light. The smaller patch
corresponds to Orion and the larger to Perseus. New images from ESA's Planck
space observatory reveal the forces driving star formation and give
astronomers a way to understand the complex physics that shape the dust
and gas in our Galaxy. The images both show three
physical processes taking place in the dust and gas of the interstellar
medium. Planck can show us each process separately. At the lowest
frequencies, Planck maps emission caused by high-speed electrons interacting with the Galaxy's
magnetic fields. An additional diffuse component comes from spinning
dust particles emitting at these frequencies. At intermediate wavelengths of a few millimetres, the
emission is from gas heated by newly formed hot stars. At still higher frequencies, Planck maps the meagre heat given out by
extremely cold dust. This can reveal the coldest cores in the clouds,
which are approaching the final stages of collapse, before they are
reborn as fully-fledged stars. The stars then disperse the surrounding ...

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