Space telescope reveals new images of the Universe

An image of a vibrant nursery of star formation enveloped in a shroud of interstellar dust. This image shows the densest part of the molecular cloud complex and a region with ongoing star formation
Durham University scientists form part of the Euclid team [ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA]

A space mission involving Durham University scientists, designed to help understand the dark Universe, has released five new and spectacular images.

The university is a key partner of the European Space Agency’s (Esa) Euclid space telescope, which launched in July 2023.

Professor Richard Massey, of Durham’s Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy, said: "Euclid is the most sensitive camera ever built."

Its new images show clusters containing thousands of galaxies, star forming nurseries and galaxy mergers.

Physicists at Durham created mock data used to train the analysis software of the telescope.

Researchers from the university will compare their simulations against real observations from Euclid to help them interpret information captured by the telescope.

An image of a close-up cutout from a larger frame of the Dorado Group
The Euclid mission is expected to last at least six years [ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA]

Professor Massey said of Euclid: "It took 20 years to design it in a way that it will survive its inhospitable environment for at least six years.

"Today’s images show the capacity Euclid has to see structures and objects in the dark Universe in detail that we have never seen before.

"This is a hugely exciting time, which will significantly advance our knowledge and understanding of the evolution of our Universe."

A smaller, close-up cutout from a wider frame featuring galaxy cluster Abell 2390
The aim of the mission is to inform scientists about the expansion of the Universe [ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, ]

Esa Director General Josef Aschbacher said: “The mission is the result of many years of hard work from scientists, engineers and industry throughout Europe and from members of the Euclid scientific consortium around the world.

“They 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 very beginning of its exciting journey to map the structure of the Universe.”

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