Image of the Day: The galactic magnetic field looks like a gorgeous work of art

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Feb 6, 2015, 10:49 AM EST (Updated)

The European Space Agency’s Planck mission was designed to observe cosmic microwave background and infrared frequencies — but it also captured this stunning image.

Basically, the observatory captured an image of emission from dust, which shows the orientation of the galactic magnetic field. It’s also very, very pretty.

Here’s an excerpt from NASA that explains the beauty above:

The texture indicates the orientation of the galactic magnetic field. It is based on measurements of the direction of the polarized light emitted by the dust. The highlighted region shows the position of a small patch of the sky that was observed with two ground-based experiments at the South Pole, BICEP2 and the Keck Array.

The image shows that dust emission is strongest along the plane of the galaxy, in the upper part of the image, but that it cannot be neglected even in other regions of the sky. The small cloud visible in red, to the upper right of the BICEP2 field, shows dust emission from the Small Magellanic Cloud, a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way.

(Via Sploid)