TECH

This Is Not A Van Gogh. It Is The Galaxy.

17/12/2014 12:00 GMT | Updated 17/12/2014 12:00 GMT

This picture of the galaxy might look it's created by the brush strokes of Van Gogh or Turner.

But in fact it's just the magnetic fields present every day in the sky that we just can't see.

The image is a visualisation of data from the European Space Agency's Planck satellite.

Planck spent five years between 2009 and 2013 analysing the background microwave radiation in the sky, looking for the origins of the big bang and ultimately life itself.

This background magnetic field also manipulates the dust and gas clouds that surround our galaxy - and that's what you can see in the image.

ESA said:

"In this image, the colour scale represents the total intensity of dust emission, revealing the structure of interstellar clouds in the Milky Way. The texture is based on measurements of the direction of the polarised light emitted by the dust, which in turn indicates the orientation of the magnetic field.

This image shows the intricate link between the magnetic field and the structure of the interstellar medium along the plane of the Milky Way. In particular, the arrangement of the magnetic field is more ordered along the Galactic plane, where it follows the spiral structure of the Milky Way. Small clouds are seen just above and below the plane, where the magnetic field structure becomes less regular."

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