39 (0 kilometers per second)

Milky Way in infrared. Image credit: COBE

Image from Universe Today. Milky Way in infrared. Image credit: COBE

“This picture of the Milky Way was captured by NASA’s COBE satellite. This photograph was taken using the infrared spectrum, which allows astronomers to peer through the gas and dust that normally obscures the center of the Milky Way.”

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Thinking about very big powers of 10 like 10+26 from Scientific American

“In 1989, the COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) satellite was placed in orbit about the earth… to measure the long-diluted radiation echo of the birth of our universe. This radiation, which remains from the immensely hot and dense primordial fireball that was our early universe, is known as the cosmic microwave background radiation (CBR). The CBR presently pervades all of space. It is the equivalent of the entire universe “glowing with heat.”

“One of COBE’s discoveries was that the earth was moving with respect to this CBR with a well-defined speed and direction…  The earth is moving with respect to the CBR at a speed of 390 kilometers per second. We can also specify the direction relative to the CBR. It is more fun, though, to look up into the night sky and find the constellation known as Leo (the Lion). The earth is moving toward Leo at the dizzying speed of 390 kilometers per second.”

For a Powers of 10 project, make a report on the scientific instruments that measure the cosmic microwave background radiation (CBR).

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