The Infrared Sky

The Infared Sky.

The Milky Way, our solar system, and the Universe are the three primary contributors to the infared sky. Shown is a project of the entire infared sky created from years of observations by the robot spacecraft COBE (COsmic Background Explorer, launched in 1989), whose objective was to measure infared and cosmic microwave background radiation from the Big Bang. Our solar system is evidenced by the serpentine blue sash called zodiacal light, created by the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The Milky Way is evidenced by the bright horizontal slash of light across the middle, created mostly by dust that laces the disk of our galaxy. Close inspection of the image reveals that the background is not completely dark, indicating that our Universe itself provides a diffuse glow, created by dust left from the star formation throughout the Universe.

w.wu 2000-2005