July 22, 2024

Euclid Space Telescope Shares Stunning Images Ahead of Dark Matter Survey

The European Space Agency (ESA) has unveiled the first batch of images captured by its Euclid space telescope, showcasing its impressive high-resolution capabilities. These images also serve as a preview of the telescope’s upcoming dark matter survey.

Current estimates suggest that the visible matter in the universe represents only a small fraction of its total composition. According to calculations, approximately 95% of the universe is comprised of dark matter and dark energy, which only interact with normal matter through gravity.

To unravel the mysteries surrounding this elusive darkness, large-scale experiments are necessary. The Euclid mission, led by ESA and supported by international partners, plans to conduct a six-year survey of one-third of the sky (with the Milky Way obscuring the view). Equipped with highly accurate instruments, the mission aims to study the structure and interactions of celestial bodies, providing insight into the nature and distribution of dark matter and energy.

Euclid was launched on July 1, 2023, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Although it will still be some time before the telescope embarks on its scientific mission, which includes complex orbital maneuvers to reach Lagrange Point 2 (L2), the released images indicate Euclid’s potential.

The collection of images includes a snapshot of the Perseus Cluster, capturing 1,000 galaxies within the cluster located approximately 240 million light-years away. In addition, 100,000 galaxies in the background are also visible. The structure of such clusters is believed to be explained by the presence of dark matter.

Another image features the Spiral galaxy IC 342, known as the Hidden Galaxy or Caldwell 5, which closely resembles our own Milky Way.

The third image showcases the irregular galaxy NGC 6822, displaying typical characteristics of early galaxies found at the universe’s edge. Remarkably, this galaxy is only 1.6 million light-years away from Earth.

The fourth image captures NGC 6397, a globular cluster located 7,800 light-years away. Comprised of hundreds of thousands of stars held together by gravity, this image is significant because Euclid is the only telescope capable of capturing the entire cluster in such detail in a single frame.

Lastly, the fifth image highlights the Horsehead Nebula, or Barnard 33, located in the constellation of Orion. Euclid’s mission aims to enhance our understanding of stellar nurseries such as this by potentially discovering new young Jupiter-mass planets, as well as young brown dwarfs and newborn stars.

Dark matter is responsible for the gravitational pull that binds galaxies together and causes them to rotate faster than expected based on visible matter alone. On the other hand, dark energy drives the universe’s accelerated expansion. Euclid is poised to provide cosmologists with the opportunity to study these contrasting dark mysteries simultaneously, explains Professor Carole Mundell, ESA’s Director of Science. With its ability to capture these remarkable images, Euclid is set to advance our comprehension of the cosmos and help answer one of the greatest enigmas of modern physics.

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  1. Source: Coherent Market Insights, Public sources, Desk research
  2. We have leveraged AI tools to mine information and compile it