ESA has published the first set of scientific data captured with the Euclid telescope, showing an unprecedented view of the Universe’s distant past.

   The telescope, launched in July 2023, is part of the Dark Energy Satellite Mission, which aims to map the dark Universe to unravel the mysteries of dark matter and energy and reveal how and why the Universe looks the way it does today. .

   The first observations, described in a series of 10 scientific papers published on May 23, include five never-before-seen images of the Universe (above). Clockwise from top left are the Golden Group, Messier 78, NGC 6744, Abell 2764, and Abell 2390.

   The papers also describe several new discoveries, including free-floating newborn planets, newly identified extragalactic star clusters, new low-mass dwarf galaxies in a nearby galaxy cluster, the distribution of intracluster dark matter and light in galaxy clusters. , and very distant bright galaxies from the first billion years of the Universe.

   Christopher Conselice, Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at the University of Manchester, said in a statement: “Euclid will completely revolutionize our view of the Universe. These results are already revealing important new findings about local galaxies, new unknown dwarf galaxies, extrasolar planets and some of the first galaxies. These results are just the tip of the iceberg of what is to come. Soon Euclid will discover still unknown details of dark energy and give a complete picture of how galaxy formation occurred throughout cosmic time.

   The Early Release Observations program was conducted during Euclid’s first months in space as a first look at the depth and diversity of science Euclid will provide. A total of 24 hours were allocated to target 17 specific astronomical objects, from nearby clouds of gas and dust to distant galaxy clusters, producing stunning images that are invaluable for scientific research. In just one day, Euclid produced a catalog of more than 11 million objects in visible light and five million more in infrared light.

   The images released now follow the return of the first full-color images of the cosmos obtained by the space telescope in November 2023.

   The images obtained by Euclid are at least four times sharper than those that can be taken with ground-based telescopes. They cover vast expanses of sky at unparalleled depth, peering into the distant Universe using visible and infrared light.

   The next Euclid Consortium data release will focus on Euclid’s main scientific objectives. A first global rapid release is currently planned for March 2025, while a broader data release is planned for June 2026. At least three more rapid releases and two further data releases are expected before 2031, which corresponds to a few months after the end of Euclid’s initial survey.

   The Euclid Consortium consists of more than 2,600 members, including more than 1,000 researchers from more than 300 laboratories in 15 European countries, as well as Canada, Japan and the United States, spanning diverse fields of astrophysics, cosmology, theoretical physics and particle physics.