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Monday, February 26 2024

Euclid Telescope Reveals Stunning Color Images of ‘Dark Universe

black hole
Photo Credit : IANS

The first full-color images of the universe have been beam back by the European Space Agency’s (ESA) dark universe probing Euclid mission.

A massive cluster of thousands of distant galaxies, close-ups of two nearby galaxies, a globular cluster—a gravitationally bound group of stars—and a nebula—a cloud of gas and dust in space where stars form—are among the first five science images that were made public on Tuesday. All of the images are vividly colored.

Even when zoomed in on far-off galaxies, the images maintain their remarkable sharpness and capture the entirety of these celestial bodies.

“Dark energy is responsible for the Universe’s accelerated expansion; it pulls galaxies together and accelerates their rotation faster than visible matter alone can explain. According to Professor Carole Mundell, Director of Science at ESA, “Euclid will enable cosmologists to study these competing dark mysteries together for the first time.”

“These magnificent Euclid images show that the mission is ready to help answer one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics,” Mundell continued. “Euclid will make a leap in our understanding of the cosmos as a whole.”

The new images include 1000 galaxies belonging to the Perseus Cluster, and more than 100,000 additional galaxies further away in the background.

Perseus is one of the most massive structures known in the Universe, located ‘just’ 240 million light-years away from Earth.

“This is the first time that such a large image has allowed us to capture so many Perseus galaxies in such a high level of detail,” the ESA said in a statement.

One of the first galaxies that Euclid observed is nicknamed the ‘Hidden Galaxy’ — also known as IC 342 or Caldwell 5. With its infrared view, Euclid has already uncovered crucial information about the stars in this galaxy, which is a look-alike of our Milky Way.

The telescope also captured its first irregular dwarf galaxy called NGC 6822, located just 1.6 million light-years from Earth.

NGC 6397, the second-closest globular cluster to Earth, located about 7800 light-years away was also imaged in detail by Euclid. Globular clusters are collections of hundreds of thousands of stars held together by gravity.

“Currently no other telescope than Euclid can observe an entire globular cluster in one single observation, and at the same time distinguish so many stars in the cluster. These faint stars tell us about the history of the Milky Way and where dark matter is located,” the ESA said.

The Horsehead Nebula, also known as Barnard 33 and a component of the constellation Orion, was also captured in breathtaking panoramic and detailed detail by the telescope.

In Euclid’s new observation of this stellar nursery, scientists hope to find many dim and previously unseen Jupiter-mass planets in their celestial infancy, as well as young brown dwarfs and baby stars.

Euclid launched on July 1 from Cape Canaveral, Florida, then travelled nearly 1 million miles to its vantage point.

With billions of galaxies up to 10 billion light-years away from Earth, Euclid will create the largest 3D map of the universe to date during its six-year mission. Euclid will cover nearly one-third of the sky.

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