source : gizmodo.com.au
Earlier this morning, ESA released the first science images from the Euclid Space Telescope, offering a glimpse into its mission to explore the ‘dark universe’ – the mysterious 95% of the cosmos made up of dark matter and dark energy.
The five images were chosen for their scientific value and public appeal, because the ESA team obviously wants to show off the telescope’s capabilities with a bang.
For almost 14 billion years, the universe has known phases of brightness and darkness. Its ever-accelerating expansion, driven by the enigmatic ‘dark energy’, is a puzzle that the Euclid mission aims to solve. Euclid will also investigate dark matter, an invisible substance that can only be detected by its gravitational effects, such as bending light from distant sources – a process known as gravitational lensing.
You can see the first images from the telescope on the following slides and on the ESA website. The final refinement of Euclid is now taking place and routine scientific observations are expected to begin in early 2024.
Perseus galaxy cluster
The first image of the set showed the Perseus star cluster, a gravitationally bound group of about 100,000 galaxies, some of which are up to 10 billion years old. Jean-Charles Cuillandre, a Euclid scientist at CEA Paris-Saclay, explained during the livestream that concentrations of galaxies in the cluster run along invisible filaments of dark matter, illustrating how Euclid explores parts of the cosmos that we cannot directly observe. will map out. You can explore the image at its highest resolution in ESAsky, an ESA tool that makes it easier to explore Euclid’s images.
Spiral galaxy IC 342
The second image shows spiral galaxy IC 342, a galaxy in the Galactic plane behind the disk of our galaxy. Although the galaxy is shrouded in gas, dust and stars, Euclid’s near-infrared instrument can cut through that material and focus on the light coming from the galaxy itself.
Over the next six years of scientific observation, Euclid will image an area 30,000 times larger than the area in the first image. The VIS instrument’s field of view is larger than the full moon in the night sky.
“This image may look normal, as if any telescope could make such an image, but that is not true,” said Leslie Hunt, a Euclid Consortium scientist at the National Institute of Astrophysics in Italy, in an ESA release . “What’s special here is that we have a wide view of the entire galaxy, but we can also zoom in to distinguish individual stars and star clusters. This makes it possible to trace the history of star formation and better understand how stars formed and evolved over the lifetime of the galaxy.”
Irregular galaxy NGC 6822
The third image shared by ESA was the irregular galaxy NGC 6822, captured earlier this year with the Webb Space Telescope. It took Euclid just an hour to image the galaxy and its surroundings in detail, a feat not possible for ground-based telescopes or even observatories like Webb, which focus on smaller parts of the sky.
Globular star cluster NGC 6397
Euclid also imaged the second-closest globular cluster, a structure called NGC 6397. Euclid’s vast field of view captured the entire globular cluster, a dense, spherical collection of stars orbiting a galactic core, in a single high-magnitude image. resolution, in one high-resolution image. allowing even distant galaxies to be seen in the background.
Euclid also imaged the Horsehead Nebula, part of the constellation Orion, just 1,375 light-years away. According to an ESA report, the nebula is the closest giant star-forming region to Earth, and the photo of Euclid was taken in just an hour.
The nebula is illuminated by ultraviolet radiation from the nearby star Sigma Orionis. The star is not in this image because it would outshine all the details of the nebula’s gas and background stars.
source : gizmodo.com.au