Masking Out Galaxies

This graphic illustrates how the Cosmic Infrared Background Experiment, or CIBER, team measures a diffuse glow of infrared light filling the spaces between galaxies. The glow does not come from any known stars and galaxies; instead, the CIBER data suggest it comes from stars flung out of galaxies.

First, sky images are collected via different rocket flights. A small part of a sky image is shown in the left panel. The actual images are 20 times the area of the full moon. This wide field of view is one of the unique aspects of the CIBER experiment.

The next step is to remove all the known stars and galaxies (middle panel). After this masking step is performed, the remaining data reveal overall large-scale patterns of light with lumps that are bigger than galaxies themselves (center panel). By smoothing over these data, we can see the large-scale patterns (right panel). The observed patterns ultimately reveal clues to the origin of the mysterious infrared background light.

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Page Last Updated: November 5th, 2014
Page Editor: Tony Greicius