Uros Seljak won a global Wikimedia photo and image competition for this microwave image of a Milky Way dust emission polarization pattern. Physics postdoctoral researcher Yu Feng assisted with data processing and Andrej Berlot assisted with post-processing.
"I am a professor of physics and of astronomy at UC Berkeley and my research focus is cosmology. One of the main goals of cosmology is to elucidate the origins of our Universe.
We believe our Universe started with a rapid expansion called inflation, during which tiny quantum seeds were imprinted into the fabric of spacetime, leading in time to creation of galaxies, stars and planets, including the Earth. To prove this theory myself and my colleagues proposed to search for B-modes, a spiral type of polarization imprinted in the microwave sky. However, Milky Way emits dust, which is also polarized, and scientists must learn how to distinguish the two signals.
This image was created by taking dust emission as measured from the Planck satellite and converting its intensity into a polarization pattern. The bright yellow band is Milky Way as seen in the microwave sky. A B-mode was imprinted into a single spot by locally rotating the dust polarization pattern by 45 degrees. A hilly landscape was added at the bottom to represent that many of the B-mode experiments are ground based, in places from Antarctica to Atacama desert in Chile.
This picture is a great example of a teamwork in science and could not have been made without the input of numerous people. Special thanks to the Planck satellite team who observed and made public the data this is based on, Susan Clark for the original inspiration, Yu Feng for the data processing and Andrej Berlot for the post-processing."