The Planck satellite captures the sexiest image of white noise ever
In 2009, the European Space Agency launched a satellite to search for “gravitational waves” in space/time. The hypothetical waves should be observable in the luminous, radioactive afterglow of the Big Bang known as cosmic microwave background — aka CMB, aka that stuff that helps make the white noise on your TV. The discovery of these waves would prove that, after the Big Bang, the universe expanded at speeds faster than light. Which is fast.
According to Science, the project may not be finished until 2012. But, in the meantime, we can revel in the beauty of universe-wide CMB pictures.
More from the article:
Planck is already mapping the fine details of the CMB at the edges of the sky (top and bottom of picture) but the microwave radiation from the dust and gas in the Milky Way obscures a large portion of its view (center of the map). It will take several years of data analysis to factor out the radiation from the galactic plane and get a clear full-sky picture of the CMB. Once available, however, the CMB map should resolve competing theories of how the universe underwent a period of inflation after the Big Bang, and provide other cosmological answers.
For more on Planck, check it this BBC article (with a sweet graphic).