Euclid Space Telescope Reveals New Images of the Cosmos

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A nursery where stars are born, just one of five new images released by the European Euclid Space Telescope.

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A nursery where stars are born, just one of five new images released by the European Euclid Space Telescope.

A mind-boggling number of bright galaxies, a nursery of purple and orange stars and a spiral galaxy similar to our Milky Way: new images from the European Euclid Space Telescope were revealed on Thursday.

It is the second set of images released by the European Space Agency since Euclid launched last year on the first mission to investigate the mysteries of dark matter and energy.

Scientific results were also published for the first time on this six-year mission, which aims to use its extensive vision to map two billion galaxies across a third of the sky.

Euclid project scientist René Laureijs told AFP he was “personally very excited” by the image of a huge galaxy cluster called Abell 2390.

The image of the cluster, located 2.7 billion light years from Earth, covers more than 50,000 galaxies.

A single galaxy, like our own, can host hundreds of billions or even trillions of stars.

Abell 2390 alone contains the mass of about 10 trillion suns, Jason Rhodes of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory said in an online news conference.

The image also points to traces of dark matter, whose invisible presence can only be detected by observing how its gravity distorts light.

“There is so much dark matter in this cluster that it severely bends the light from some of these background galaxies,” making them appear curved, Rhodes said.


Scientists hope to find signs of the ever-elusive dark matter in Euclid’s observations of the Abell 2390 cluster containing more than 50,000 galaxies.

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Scientists hope to find signs of the ever-elusive dark matter in Euclid’s observations of the Abell 2390 cluster containing more than 50,000 galaxies.

Dark matter and dark energy are thought to make up 95 percent of the universe, but we know almost nothing about them.

Another way the Abell 2390 image hinted at the existence of dark matter was by revealing the faint light of “orphan stars” floating among galaxy clusters.

These stars are ejected from the galaxies, “creating a kind of cloud that surrounds the entire cluster,” French scientist Jean-Charles Cuillandre explained to AFP.

Astronomers believe that this strange phenomenon indicates the presence of dark matter between galaxies.

A star has been born

Euclid also captured the deepest image ever seen of Messier 78, a star birth nursery 1,300 light years from Earth in the constellation Orion.

Stars are still forming in the bluish center of the image. After millions of years in the making, they emerge from the purple and orange clouds at the bottom of the image.


The Dorado group of galaxies, in which Euclid discovered a never-before-seen dwarf galaxy.

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The Dorado group of galaxies, in which Euclid discovered a never-before-seen dwarf galaxy.

Laureijs stressed that “only Euclid can show this at once.”

That’s because Euclid has a very wide field of view, in contrast to the James Webb Far-Viewing Space Telescope, its neighbor at a stable suspension point 1.5 million kilometers (930,000 miles) from Earth.

Another image, of the enormous galaxy cluster Abell 2764, shows a black expanse in which a yellow star stands out.

Cuillandre admitted that this was the result of an error in pointing the telescope. But he said the image demonstrated “Euclid’s absolutely unique ability to concentrate light” because he was still able to pick up very faint objects next to the bright star.

Euclid’s image of the young Golden Cluster contained a surprise. Although the cluster was already well studied, Euclid discovered a never-before-seen dwarf galaxy, scientists said.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Cuillandre said.

In the fifth new image, the spiral galaxy NGC 6744, which bears a striking resemblance to the Milky Way, unfolds against a background of bright stars.


The spiral galaxy NGC 6744, located about 30 million light years away, is similar to our Milky Way.

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The spiral galaxy NGC 6744, located about 30 million light years away, is similar to our Milky Way.

On the trail of dark matter

It’s still early for the mission and the five new images were captured in just one day.

In the coming years, scientists plan to examine Euclid’s data in hopes of detecting all kinds of celestial bodies, such as “rogue” planets, that float freely through the universe without connection to a star.


The bright star shining in the Abell 2764 galaxy cluster may have been the result of an error, but ESA says it still shows the strengths of Euclid.

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The bright star shining in the Abell 2764 galaxy cluster may have been the result of an error, but ESA says it still shows the strengths of Euclid.

But researchers have already been analyzing the first batch of Euclid images, which were released in November.

In one of 10 preprint studies published Thursday, scientists looked at orphan stars in the Perseus cluster.

These lost stars “are now trapped in the gravity of dark matter,” Laureijs said.

This is still only an “indirect detection of dark matter,” he stressed, adding that it is too early “to say anything about dark energy.”

The mission has not been entirely easy.


Stars are still forming in the blue center of the Messier 78 stellar nursery, emerging from the orange clouds below.

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Stars are still forming in the blue center of the Messier 78 stellar nursery, emerging from the orange clouds below.

In March, a delicate operation successfully melted a thin layer of ice that had been slowly clouding the telescope’s view by heating one of its mirrors.

There are signs that the ice is building up again, Laureijs said, adding that the team has time to investigate what to do next.

More information:
Scientific articles from Euclid’s Early Release Observations will be available from May 23, 2024 onwards: www.euclid-ec.org/science/publications/