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ESA’s Euclid celebrates first science with brilliant cosmic views

Science and exploration

05/23/2024
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Today, ESA’s Euclid space mission publishes five unprecedented new views of the Universe. The never-before-seen images demonstrate Euclid’s ability to unlock the secrets of the cosmos and allow scientists to search for rogue planets, use lensed galaxies to study mysterious matter, and explore the evolution of the Universe.

The new images are part of Euclid’s early publication Observations. They accompany the first scientific data from the mission, which was also made public today, and 10 scientific articles soon to be published. The treasure trove comes less than a year after the space telescope launched, and about six months after it returned its first full-color images of the cosmos.

“Euclid is a unique and innovative mission, and these are the first data sets to be made public – it is an important milestone,” says Valeria Pettorino, ESA’s Euclid project scientist. “The images and associated scientific findings are impressively diverse in terms of the objects observed and the distances. They include a variety of scientific applications, yet represent just 24 hours of observations. They give just a hint of what Euclid can do. We look forward to six more years of data to come!

The full set of initial observations focused on 17 astronomical objects, from nearby clouds of gas and dust to distant galaxy clusters, before Euclid’s main survey. This study aims to unlock the secrets of the dark cosmos and reveal how and why the Universe looks the way it does today.

“This space telescope aims to address the biggest open questions in cosmology,” adds Valeria. “And these early observations clearly demonstrate that Euclid is more than up to the task.”

Unprecedented results

Euclid will trace the hidden web-like foundations of the cosmos, map billions of galaxies across more than a third of the sky, explore how our Universe formed and evolved throughout cosmic history, and study the most mysterious of its fundamental components. : dark energy. and dark matter.

Euclid celebrates the first science with brilliant new images

The images obtained by Euclid are at least four times sharper than those we can take with ground-based telescopes. They cover vast expanses of sky at unparalleled depth, peering into the distant Universe using visible and infrared light.

“It is no exaggeration to say that the results we are seeing from Euclid are unprecedented,” says ESA Chief Scientific Officer Professor Carole Mundell. “Euclid’s first images, published in November, clearly illustrated the telescope’s enormous potential for exploring the dark Universe, and this second batch is no different.

“The beauty of Euclid is that it covers large regions of the sky in great detail and depth, and can capture a wide range of different objects, all in the same image: from faint to bright, from distant to close, from the most massive. galaxy clusters to small planets. We get a very detailed and very broad view at the same time. “This amazing versatility has led to numerous new scientific results that, when combined with the results of Euclid’s studies in the coming years, will significantly alter our understanding of the Universe.”

While visually stunning, the images are much more than just beautiful snapshots; They reveal new physical properties of the Universe thanks to Euclid’s novel and unique observational capabilities. These scientific secrets are detailed in more detail in a series of accompanying papers published by the Euclid collaboration, which will be available tomorrow on arXiv (linked below), along with five key reference papers on the Euclid mission.

Early findings show Euclid’s ability to search star-forming regions for free-floating ‘rogue’ planets with just four times the mass of Jupiter; study the outer regions of star clusters in unprecedented detail; and map different populations of stars to explore how galaxies have evolved over time. They reveal how the space telescope can detect individual star clusters in distant groups and galaxy clusters; identify a rich harvest of new dwarf galaxies; see the light of stars torn from their parent galaxies, and much more.

Euclid produced this first catalog in a single day, revealing more than 11 million objects in visible light and 5 million more in infrared light. This catalog has given rise to important scientific developments.

“Euclid demonstrates European excellence in cutting-edge science and cutting-edge technology, and shows the importance of international collaboration,” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher. “The mission is the result of many years of hard work by scientists, engineers and industry from across Europe and members of the Euclid science consortium from around the world, all brought together by ESA. They can be proud of this achievement: the results are no small feat for such an ambitious mission and such complex fundamental science. “Euclid is at the beginning of his exciting journey to map the structure of the Universe.”

Presenting the images

New Euclid image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2390

abell 2390

The Euclid image of the galaxy cluster Abell 2390 reveals more than 50,000 galaxies and shows a beautiful display of gravitational lensing, representing giant curved arcs in the sky, some of which are actually multiple views of the same distant object. Euclid will use lensing (where light traveling towards us from distant galaxies is bent and distorted by gravity) as a key technique to explore the dark Universe, indirectly measuring the amount and distribution of dark matter both in galaxy clusters and elsewhere. Euclid scientists are also studying how the masses and numbers of galaxy clusters in the sky have changed over time, revealing more about the history and evolution of the Universe.

Euclid’s cropped view of Abell 2390 shows the light permeating the star cluster that has been torn from its parent galaxies and found in intergalactic space. Seeing this “intracluster light” is a specialty of Euclid, and these orphan stars may allow us to “see” where the dark matter is located.

More about this image

New Euclid image of the star-forming region Messier 78

Messiest 78

This stunning image shows Messier 78, a vibrant nursery of stars shrouded in interstellar dust. Euclid deeply examined this nursery using his infrared camera, exposing for the first time hidden regions of star formation, mapping its complex filaments of gas and dust in unprecedented detail, and discovering newly formed stars and planets. Euclid’s instruments can detect objects a few times the mass of Jupiter, and his infrared “eyes” reveal more than 300,000 new objects in this field of view alone. Scientists are using this data set to study the number and proportion of stars and smaller (substellar) objects found here, key to understanding the dynamics of how star populations form and change over time.

More about this image

New Euclid image of the spiral galaxy NGC 6744

NGC 6744

In this image, Euclid shows NGC 6744, an archetype of the type of galaxy that currently forms most of the stars in the local Universe. Euclid’s wide field of view covers the entire galaxy, capturing not only the spiral structure on larger scales but also exquisite details on small spatial scales. This includes feather-like fringes of dust emerging as “spurs” from the spiral arms, shown here in incredible clarity. Scientists are using this data set to understand how dust and gas are related to star formation; map how different populations of stars are distributed in galaxies and where stars are currently forming; and unravel the physics behind the structure of spiral galaxies, something that is still not fully understood after decades of study.

More about this image

Euclid’s new view of the Abell 2764 galaxy cluster

Abell 2764 (and bright star)

This view shows the galaxy cluster Abell 2764 (top right), which comprises hundreds of galaxies within a vast halo of dark matter. Euclid captures many objects in this patch of sky, including background galaxies, more distant clusters, and interacting galaxies that shed streams and layers of stars. This complete view of Abell 2764 and its surroundings, obtained thanks to Euclid’s impressively wide field of view, allows scientists to determine the radius of the cluster and see its surroundings with distant galaxies still framed. Euclid’s observations of Abell 2764 are also allowing scientists to further explore galaxies in the distant cosmic dark ages, as is the case with Abell 2390.

Also seen here is a very bright foreground star that lies within our own galaxy (V*BP-Phoenicis/HD 1973, a star within our galaxy and in the southern hemisphere that is almost bright enough to be seen by the human eye). When we look at a star through a telescope, its light is scattered outward forming a diffuse circular halo due to the telescope’s optics. Euclid was designed to make this dispersion as small as possible. As a result, the star causes little disturbance, allowing us to capture faint, distant galaxies near the line of sight without being blinded by the star’s brightness.

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New Euclid image of the Dorado galaxy group

Golden Group

Here, Euclid captures evolving and merging galaxies “in action” in the Dorado galaxy group, with beautiful tidal tails and shells seen as a result of ongoing interactions. Scientists are using this data set to study how galaxies evolve, improve our models of cosmic history, and understand how galaxies form within dark matter halos. This image shows the versatility of Euclid: a wide range of galaxies are seen here, from very bright to very faint. Thanks to Euclid’s unique combination of large field of view, remarkable depth, and high spatial resolution, it can capture tiny (star clusters), larger (galaxy cores), and extended (tidal tails) features, all in a single frame. . Scientists are also searching for distant individual star clusters known as globular clusters to trace their galactic history and dynamics.

More about this image

Location in the sky of Euclid’s first 10 objectives

About Euclid

Euclid is a European mission, built and operated by ESA, with contributions from NASA. The Euclid Consortium, made up of more than 2,000 scientists from 300 institutes in 15 European countries, the USA, Canada and Japan, is responsible for providing the scientific instruments and scientific data analysis. ESA selected Thales Alenia Space as prime contractor for the construction of the satellite and its service module, and Airbus Defense and Space was chosen to develop the payload module, including the telescope. NASA provided the detectors for the near-infrared spectrometer and photometer, NISP. Euclid is a medium-class mission of ESA’s Cosmic Vision Programme.

Links

Scientific articles and data:

Images on ESASky:

Web articles from associated institutes:

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