Tuesday, November 1, 2011

How The Universe Changes At Every Wavelength.

I found a very interesting website that shows what the universe looks like at every wavelength and it is really cool.  I encourage you all to check it out.

Now, I am not an expert on the physics that dominates each wavelength but I will mention a few I know a thing or two about.  First, are the familiar visible wavelengths are shown in the top image.  Pretty cool.  Nice shot of the galactic plane of the Milky Way.  The visible bands of course are much of the stars in the Milky Way themselves.

Above is the far-infraed and that means dust! That's right, the light coming from dust is brightest in the far infrared, and so what you are seeing is the wispy dust structures surrounding the Milky Way.

Next: the above is the microwave regime and what should that immediately bring to mind?.... The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) of course!  And you can see it well in the corners of the image with the tell tale fluctuation patterns.  That glow my friends dates back to just after the big bang itself.  Unfortunately you also see how hard life can be for CMB physicists as they have to extract the CMB with all that other "foreground" garbage (garbage to CMB people at least) in the way that has to be carefully subtracted out.

Lastly: Gamma ray bursts.  This is what the universe looks like in gamma rays.  You will note some strong bright dots bursting with gamma rays.  These are cool because they are often very energetic events like supernova or formation of black holes.

So you can learn a lot from looking at the same sky in different wavelengths.  So go to that site, play around and have fun.  The differences you see at each wavelength underscore different physical processes happening across the universe.


  1. Great post - I love the web interface.  I was playing around and noticed that on the x-ray image there are prominent black lines running through the image.  Does anyone know what causes that?  My first guess was that those are areas that haven't been surveyed in x-rays but I have to believe that somewhere there is a full-sky image in x-rays.

  2. Nick,

    Thanks.  And good question about the X-Rays.  I'm not sure  other then assuming maybe there is a lack of coverage there for some reason.


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