Euclid’s First Images: The Dazzling Edge of Darkness

Horsehead Nebula: The "Euclid" probe was launched into space at the beginning of July

The European probe “Euclid” has sent its first images, providing a detailed insight into space. The European Space Agency (ESA) stated that “never before has a telescope been able to capture such sharp astronomical images over such a vast portion of the sky and peer so deeply into the distant universe.” In the European Space Operations Centre in Darmstadt and at the Space Summit in Seville, the agency presented the first images from the probe. Its mission is to collect data on billions of galaxies, including for the exploration of Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

One of the images shows the Perseus Cluster in the Perseus constellation. According to ESA, this image is a “revolution for astronomy” as it displays 1,000 galaxies from the cluster and more than 100,000 galaxies farther in the background, many of which were previously not visible. “Euclid” has also captured an image of the famous Horsehead Nebula.

Euclid’s view of irregular galaxy NGC 6822
Euclid’s view of irregular galaxy NGC 6822.

Launched into space in early July, “Euclid” features a high-resolution telescope equipped with two cameras: one for the visible wavelength range and one for the near-infrared range. These cameras are designed to map the movements and shapes of galaxies and aid in estimating the distances of galaxies.

ESA’s goal is to peer into the universe’s past and explore its evolution over the last ten billion years. The mission aims to collect data on billions of galaxies and create a 3D map of the universe with time as a component.

These exquisite Euclid images show that the mission is ready to help answer one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics,said Carole Mundell, the Director of Science at ESA.

Dark Matter and Dark Energy together make up a vast portion of the universe, while all other known components, such as galaxies, account for only about five percent. However, researchers have limited knowledge about these two entities. According to ESA, “Euclid” will meticulously record the shape, position, and motion of galaxies, which can shed light on the distribution of matter across vast distances in space and the expansion of the universe throughout cosmic history. Astronomers hope to deduce the properties of Dark Energy and Dark Matter from this information.

Euclid’s view of globular cluster NGC 6397
Euclid’s view of globular cluster NGC 6397.

Europe Wants a Private Cargo Spacecraft by 2028

In the meantime, ESA aims to develop a European spacecraft by 2028 capable of carrying cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) and returning to Earth. At the summit, ESA member countries initiated a competition among European companies for this purpose. This spacecraft could later be further developed for manned space travel and the exploration of other destinations if the member countries desire. It’s worth noting that NASA already has partnerships with companies like SpaceX and Northrop Grumman for resupplying and returning cargo from the ISS. ESA’s Director-General, Josef Aschbacher, described this as a crucial decision, putting Europe on a promising path for space exploration.