ESA’s Euclid mission offers first science and new views of the universe

ESA’s Euclid mission has released five new images showing the telescope’s ability to explore two large-scale cosmic mysteries: dark matter and dark energy. The images present views of different sizes (the star-forming region Messier 78, the spiral galaxy NGC 6744, the galaxy clusters Abell 2390 and Abell 2764, and the Dorado group of galaxies) and were taken shortly after the launch of Euclid in July 2023 as part of its early release observations program. These images accompany the first scientific data from the mission, also made public today, and 10 scientific articles soon to be published. Some of the science includes: free-floating newborn planet candidates, newly identified extragalactic star clusters, new low-mass dwarf galaxies in a nearby galaxy cluster, and the discovery of very distant bright galaxies.

These images were captured by ESA's Euclid space telescope.  Image credit: ESA / Euclid / Euclid Consortium / NASA / J.-C. Cuillandre, CEA Paris-Saclay / G. Anselmi.

These images were captured by ESA’s Euclid space telescope. Image credit: ESA / Euclid / Euclid Consortium / NASA / J.-C. Cuillandre, CEA Paris-Saclay / G. Anselmi.

Euclid, built and operated by ESA, with contributions from NASA, lifted off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 1, 2023.

By 2030, the mission will create a cosmic map that will cover nearly a third of the sky, using a field of view much wider than that of the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the NASA/ESA/CSA James Webb Space Telescope, which are designed to study smaller areas in greater detail.

Astronomers will then map the presence of dark matter more precisely than ever before. They can also use this map to study how the strength of dark energy has changed over time.

“Euclid is a unique and innovative mission, and these are the first data sets to be made public – it is an important milestone,” said Dr Valeria Pettorino, ESA’s Euclid project scientist.

“The images and associated scientific findings are impressively diverse in terms of the objects and distances observed.”

“They include a variety of scientific applications, yet they represent just 24 hours of observations.”

“They only give an idea 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.

“Euclid aims to address the biggest open questions in cosmology. And these early observations clearly demonstrate that Euclid is more than up to the task,” said Dr. Pettorino.

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.

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,” said Professor Carole Mundell, ESA’s chief scientific officer.

“Euclid’s first images 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 articles published by the Euclid Collaboration, available at arXiv.orgalong with five key reference articles on the Euclid mission.

“Euclid demonstrates European excellence in cutting-edge science and cutting-edge technology, and shows the importance of international collaboration,” said ESA Director General Dr 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.”

“You 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.”