Polarized Dust Lights Up Milky Way

This oval image represents a view of the entire sky unfolded and laid out flat. Across the middle of the image is a bright yellow line, which is light that was emitted by dust in the plane of the Milky Way. There are additional swirls and loops arising from that line of yellow, making the sky look like it is filled with flames.
ESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
CreditESA/NASA/JPL-Caltech
Historical DateFebruary 4, 2015
Language
  • english

Our Milky Way galaxy is ablaze with dust in this all-sky map from Planck, an ESA (European Space Agency) mission with important NASA contributions. The towers of fiery colors are actually dust in the galaxy and beyond that has been polarized. The data show light of 353 gigahertz or 0.85-millimeter wavelengths, which is longer than what we see with our eyes.