2012 is over, and it was a pretty great year for all sorts of entertainment, as we pointed out earlier today. Sometimes, though, we're in a more ruminative mood, and in those moments, we like nothing more than looking at pictures of space, wishing and hoping that one day, we'll even get to visit. Until then, though, photos will have to do -- it turns out that 2012 was one heck of a year for those, too, though. We welcome you to 2013 with a retrospective of the best images of some of our new favorite places in the universe that last year had to offer, courtesy of the Hubble Space Telescope, Cassini probe, International Space Station, and more. Have a very happy new year, everyone, and be sure to check back with us for the best images from space from 2013 -- we couldn't be more excited to bring them to you as they happen.
Planck Telescope Spots Galaxy Clusters Connected By Cosmic Gas Bridge, Still Unclear Which One Houses Asgard
The European Space Agency's (ESA) Planck Space Telescope has laid it's super-powerful eye in the sky on a never before seen cosmic phenomenon. The above photo is Planck's first image of a pair of galaxy clusters connected by a cloud of superheated gasses that spans a mind-boggling distance of 10 million lightyears. No word yet on if this actually represents the Asgardian Rainbow Bridge of Thor fame, so in the absence of good evidence, we're just going to really, really hope so.
Today, the European Space Agency has released a stunning all-sky image taken by the Planck Space Observatory over the course of about six months. Planck combines the work of two highly sensitive instruments, the High Frequency Instrument and the Low Frequency Instrument, which detect wavelengths between 100 and 857 GHz and between 30 and 70 GHz, respectively, to form a complete picture of visible and invisible light in our cosmos.
The purple band in the center of the image, which represents the main disc of the Milky Way Galaxy, may be the immediate eye-catcher, but it's what's going on at the peripheries that is potentially of more interest: The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation.