New images from the Euclid space telescope reveal planets on the loose and hundreds of new galaxies

The secrets of the Universe are now becoming clearer to astronomers as the Euclid telescope produces its first results. Scientists have discovered hundreds of new galaxies, star clusters, free-floating planets more massive than Jupiter, and gravitational lensing from clusters of galaxies. The open data archive enables extensive scientific research.
colourful dust in space
Messier 78, a vibrant star nursery enveloped in interstellar dust. Image: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA

On 23 May 2024, the European Space Agency (ESA) presented data collected by Euclid, launched in July last year. In addition to the scientific results, ESA released five new colour images taken by Euclid and the first open data archive for scientific use, which will allow the widest possible scientific exploitation of the data collected by the telescope.

From Finland, the Euclid consortium includes researchers from the Universities of Oulu, Helsinki, Turku, Jyväskylä and Aalto, while the data centre in Kajaani is operated by CSC - Tieteen tietotekniikan keskus Oy.

Aku Venhola and Mélina Poulain, both of the University of Oulu, are involved in mapping dwarf galaxies and globular clusters. "Of the galaxy clusters described, the Fornax cluster in particular is very familiar to me because I have been studying it for almost a decade based on observations from Earth. Looking at Euclid's observations is like putting on a pair of glasses and finally being able to see the details of the galaxies," says Venhola. "The new data will allow us to study dense clusters of stars in the centre of small galaxies in greater detail," continues Poulain. According to current understanding, some of these clusters in the central parts of galaxies also contain massive black holes, and Euclid may play a crucial role in understanding the origin of these structures.

"Euclid's goal is to unravel the nature of dark matter and dark energy. These cosmological results will have to wait until more data is available," says Elina Keihänen, director of the Finnish Euclid community at the University of Helsinki.

The published images and the ten scientific papers based on them are based on a total exposure time of less than 24 hours for selected objects. Euclid's first scientific publications and open image archives are an important milestone," says ESA's Euclid researcher and Project Scientist Valeria Pettorino. "The images and associated scientific discoveries are impressive for the diverse nature and distances of the objects studied." According to Pettorino, Euclid's early observations show that Euclid is now ready for its main mission: to unravel the nature of dark matter and energy.

In February this year, Euclid began its six-year main survey and has since then systematically imaged the sky on a daily basis, steadily increasing his mapped area. The first data release from the main survey is scheduled for 2025.

Scientific publications and colour images of Euclid's early data can be found on the ESA website.


The image above shows Messier 78, a vibrant star nursery enveloped in interstellar dust. Euclid peered deep into this nursery using its infrared camera, exposing hidden regions of star formation for the first time, mapping its complex filaments of gas and dust in unprecedented detail, and uncovering newly formed stars and planets. Photo: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA

White spiral in space
In this image Euclid showcases NGC 6744, an archetype of the kind of galaxy currently forming most of the stars in the local Universe. Photo: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA
Space and stars
This view shows the galaxy cluster Abell 2764, which comprises hundreds of galaxies within a vast halo of dark matter. Photo: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA

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Last updated: 14.6.2024