A four-year mission conducted by the European Space Agency's Planck spacecraft created the highest-resolution map yet of the entire cosmic microwave background radiation, the radiation left over from the Big Bang.
"It might look like a dirty rugby ball or a piece of modern art, but I can assure you cosmologists would have hacked our computers or given up their children to get a copy of this map," said George Efstathiou at a press conference at ESA headquarters in Paris, France, this morning.
One of the things the Planck mission confirmed was the presence of the Axis of Evil, an unexplained alignment of cold and hot spots in the cosmic microwave background:
... Planck's map has also confirmed the presence of a mysterious alignment of the universe. The "axis of evil" was identified by Planck's predecessor, NASA's Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP).
The pattern of hot and cold variations in the CMB should be randomly distributed – and they are when comparing small patches of the universe. At larger scales, however, Planck reveals that one half of the universe has bigger variations than the other. Planck's detectors are over 10 times more sensitive and have about 2.5 times the angular resolution of WMAP's, giving cosmologists a much better look at this alignment. "We can be extremely confident that these anomalies are not caused by galactic emissions and not caused by instrumental effects, because our two instruments see very similar features," said Efstathiou.
Planck has also confirmed WMAP's detection of a large unexplained cold spot in the CMB, which some cosmologists took as a sign that there are universes beyond our own. One model of inflation, called eternal inflation, suggests that new universes are continually popping into existence and expanding. This expansion could cause another universe to collide with ours, creating a "bruise" that would show up as a cold spot in the sky.
Jacob Aron of NewScientist has the post: Link