The satellite, costing 600 million Euros, was launched in 2009 by the European Space Agency with the aim of mapping the cosmic microwave background radiation, also known as the ‘afterglow of creation’ because it was the first light produced when matter began to form after the Big Bang took place around 13.7 billion years ago.
The image was produced from the satellite's first full-scan of the entire sky and shows what is visible to instruments that are sensitive to light at very long wavelengths. Dominating the picture are large parts of our own Milky Way Galaxy. The bright horizontal line running across the middle of the image is the galaxy's main disc and where the Sun and Earth are. Also can be seen huge bursts of cold dust that reach thousands of light-years above and below the galactic plane.
Scientists will now spend many years analysing the image to better understand how the Universe came to look the way it does.