Van Gogh-style Magellanic Clouds captured by deactivated satellite

Thanks to the deactivated European Space Agency’s Planck, scientists are finding amazing images that were taken showing galaxies in a new light.

Planck was originally launched in 2009 and after four years of staring out into the universe, it was deactivated in 2013 and physically lost in space. But on Monday the ESA released an image from Planck that mirrored the painting style of Vincent van Gogh. What they find to be almost hallucinatory is swirling waves of blue, brown and yellow showing an abstract view of two dwarf galaxies, according to CNET.

The two spots are known as the Large Magellanic Cloud and the Small Magellanic Cloud. The larger one is 160,000 light-years away from Earth while the smaller one is further at around 200,000 light-years away. The ESA has said that the dwarf galaxies are, “among the nearest companions of our Milky Way galaxy.”

The image is astonishing to scientists as it is not an image one can see out in space with the naked eye. Rather, it is a unique visualization of data collected by Planck that shows how interstellar dust interacts with the magnetic-field structure of our galaxy.

According to the ESA, cosmic dust is “the raw material [needed] for stars to form.”

The original Planck mission was to look back in time to see what radiation was left over from the beginning of the universe.

“Planck can see the old light from our universe’s birth, gas and dust in our own galaxy, and pretty much everything in between, either directly or by its effect on the old light,” Charles Lawrence, a Planck project scientist from NASA, said.

The ESA also explained that one of the features of the image is a dusty filament that is stretched between the two galaxies diagonal from upper left to lower right.

“The image shows how well this structure is aligned with the galaxy’s magnetic field, which is represented as the texture of the image and was estimated from Planck’s measurements,” notes the ESA.



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