The Planck satellite was launched in May 2009. It is mapping the whole sky at nine wavelengths between 30 and 857 Ghz. The spatial resolution ranges from 5 arc minutes at the highest frequencies to 33 arcmin at the lowest frequency.
The main purpose of the satellite is the measurement of the fluctuation of the cosmic background radiation. The results will be used to determine parameters of cosmological models. Planck will tell in what kind of a universe we are living.
The signal observed by Planck will contain not only the cosmic background but also several foreground components. These include other galaxies and sources within the Milky Way. The background fluctuations can be studied only when the foreground components have first been separated. The sensitive measurements made by Planck provide also excellent data for the study of the foreground components themselves.
I was involved in the preparation of the scientific program for Planck.My interests lie in the components of the foreground: far away luminous infrared galaxies and the interstellar matter in nearby galaxies and in the Milky Way. In our own galaxy the Planck will be an excellent tool for the study of dust distribution and properties in both diffuse clouds (galactic cirrus) and in denser star-forming clouds.
Currently I am working as a co-coordinator for the science working group 'Cold Cores' where the Planck data are used to locate dense and cold cores inside interstellar gas clouds. These sources are potentially pre-stellar meaning that the cores may eventually collapse, forming in the process new stars.
As a continuation of our Planck project, we proposed a key programme for the Herschel satellite for further study of the Galactic cold core population. The programme was awarded more than 150 hours of observing time on the Herschel satellite that is the largest space telescope in existence. I am coordinating this Galactic Cold Cores programme where more than 50 scientists from more than 10 countries are currently participating. For more information on these studies, please see the following pages in English and in Finnish.
- a short report on the Planck related activities at the Observatory (October 2003)
See also the Planck pages in finnish (via the Suomeksi/In Finnish menu