Cold Gas Pockets may Point to Star Formation, Cosmos Blueprint
Distribution of carbon monoxide (CO), a molecule used by astronomers to trace molecular clouds across the sky, as seen by Planck (blue). A compilation of previous surveys, which left large areas of the sky unobserved, has been superimposed for comparison (red). The outlines identify the portions of the sky covered by these surveys. ESA/Planck

Astronomers are closer to uncovering a blueprint of the cosmos after finding islands of cold gas and mysterious microwaves and for the first time map out carbon dioxide through the universe.

The discovery came from the Planck mission from the European Space Agency and was presented at an international conference in Bologna, Italy.

Most people think of carbon monoxide as a poisonous gas sometimes found in households, but an international team mapped out carbon monoxide that is part of the cold clouds in the Milky Way and other galaxies.

Astronomers hypothesized that these hydrogen-rich regions could be the birth places for stars.

The great advantage of Planck is that it scans the whole sky, allowing us to detect concentrations of molecular gas where we didn't expect to find them, Planck collaborator Jonathan Aumont from the Institut d'Astrophysique Spatiale, Universite Paris XI, Orsay, France, said in a statement.

The microwave haze defied explanation, according to scientists, who are still studying the dataset.

The results achieved thus far by Planck on the galactic haze and on the carbon monoxide distribution provide us with a fresh view on some interesting processes taking place in our galaxy, Jan Tauber, ESA's Project Scientist for Planck, said in a statement.

The astronomers plan to release the Planck dataset in 2013.

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