alancronin writes: The most detailed map ever made of the oldest light to shine through the universe has been released by scientists at the European Space Agency (ESA). The map reveals tiny variations in the "cosmic microwave background" or CMB – the faint glow of radiation that is left over from the earliest light to illuminate the cosmos. These primordial photons are all around us, and account for 1% of the "snow" that could be seen on untuned television sets. Scientists compiled the map from more than 15 months of observations by the ESA's Planck telescope. The map improves on data gathered by two previous Nasa missions called Cobe and WMAP. The director-general of Europe's space agency, Jean-Jacques Dordain, described the new map as "a giant leap in understanding the origins of the universe".