Online Astronomy eText: Galaxies and the Universe
Whole-Sky Maps of the Universe
 This page is reserved for a collection of whole-sky images of the Universe at different wavelengths. Brief discussions will be added as images are, and more detailed discussions at a later date. For now, the page should be considered a very preliminary work in progress.
Below, a microwave view of the Universe from data obtained by the Planck spacecraft. The galactic equator runs down the center, and most of the brighter bluish glow near that is emitted by objects in our own galaxy. The fainter reddish glow at top and bottom is the Cosmic Microwave Background, which is a relic of the formation of the Universe, 13.7 billion years ago. By analyzing the radiation at different wavelengths, scientists working on the Planck spacecraft project expect to separate the galactic and background radiation, allowing a more detailed study of each. (Credit: ESA, Planck HFI & LFI Consortia; image as posted at apod100709)
Microwave map of the entire sky created from Planck Space Telescope observations

Below, a microwave view of the Universe, from data collected by the WMAP spacecraft, showing the Cosmic Background Radiation. The variations in brightness and color represent quantum fluctuations in density and temperature in the early Universe (namely, at the end of the opaque period referred to as the Cosmic Fireball). (Credit: WMAP Science Team, NASA; image as posted at apod050925)
Microwave map of the entire sky created from WMAP observations

Below, an infrared view of the Universe, from data collected by the 2MASS telescopes (two 1.3 meter telescopes, in Arizona and Chile), showing the distribution of 1.6 million galaxies. The vertical bluish region represents the plane of our Milky Way, which is opaque in visible light, but partially transparent at far infrared wavelengths. The white dots and splotches represent galaxies and clusters of galaxies at different distances (the larger, brighter ones being relatively close, and the smaller, fainter ones being further away). The distribution of galaxies is obviously nonuniform, with large regions filled with galaxies (sheets and walls) interspersed with relatively empty regions (bubbles and voids). The scale of the largest structures -- superclusters, bubbles and sheets -- is hundreds of millions of light years. (Credit: 2MASS, T. H. Jarrett, J. Carpenter, & R. Hurt; image as posted at apod101227)
Infrared map of the entire sky, created from 2MASS observations