ESA’s Euclid space telescope reveals its first full-color images of the cosmos

Euclid space telescope of ESA (European Space Agency) has revealed its first full-color images of the cosmos on Tuesday, November 7, 2023.

Euclid's first five full-color images in composite frames
Euclid’s first five full-color images in composite frames. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid Consortium/NASA)

The new images include views of a spiral galaxy (a galaxy with spiral arms that come out from a dense central region) named as IC 342, a nebula (a giant interstellar cloud of gas and dust) named as the Horsehead Nebula, a globular cluster (contains hundreds of thousands of stars) named as NGC 6397, an irregular galaxy (a galaxy which doesn’t have any defined shape) named as NGC 6822 and a galaxy cluster (contains thousands of galaxies) named as Perseus cluster.

“Euclid’s first images mark the beginning of a new era of studying dark matter and dark energy,” said Mike Seiffert, Euclid project scientist at JPL. “This is the first space telescope dedicated to dark universe studies, and the sheer scale of the data we’re going to get out of this will be unlike anything we’ve had before. These are big mysteries, so it’s exciting for the international cosmology community to see this day finally arrive.”

Everything you need to know about Euclid space mission

Euclid space missionDescriptions
Named afterGreek mathematician Euclid who invented geometry
Operated by ESA (European Space Agency)
Launch dateJuly 1, 2023
Launch siteCape Canaveral, Florida, USA
Launch vehicleFalcon 9 rocket of SpaceX
Mission durationSix years (minimum)
Destination/OrbitHalo orbit around the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2 (L2) which is located about 1.5 million km away from Earth in space
ObjectivesTo investigate the mysterious dark matter and dark energy of the universe, to create the largest 3D map of our Universe
InstrumentsA 1.2 meters diameter telescope (Euclid space telescope), a visible-wavelength camera (VIS), a near-infrared camera/spectrometer (NISP) and the satellite systems

IC 342

Spiral galaxy IC 342 captured by Euclid space telescope
Spiral galaxy IC 342 captured by Euclid space telescope. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid Consortium/NASA)

IC 342 or Caldwell 5 is a spiral galaxy which is located about 11 million light-years away from Earth.

Here IC stands for the Index Catalogue (IC) and a light year is the distance traveled by light in one year in space.

IC 342 or Caldwell 5 is nicknamed the ‘Hidden Galaxy’ because it is located behind the crowded plane of our Milky Way and the dust, gas, and stars of our Milky Way obscure it from our view.

However, the Euclid space telescope has captured the sharp image of the galaxy, as Euclid used its near-infrared instrument, which penetrates through dust and captures the light from the galaxy.

“That’s what is so brilliant about Euclid images. In one shot, it can see the whole galaxy in all its beautiful detail,” explains Euclid Consortium scientist Leslie Hunt of the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy, on behalf of a broader team working on showcasing galaxies imaged by Euclid. 

Horsehead Nebula

The Horsehead Nebula captured by Euclid space telescope
The Horsehead Nebula captured by Euclid space telescope. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid Consortium/NASA)

The Horsehead Nebula, also known as Barnard 33, is the closest giant star-forming region to Earth which is located in the famous Orion constellation about 1375 light-years away from Earth.

As the giant interstellar dark cloud looks like a horse’s head that’s why it’s called the Horsehead Nebula.

With Euclid, scientists hope to find many dim and previously unseen Jupiter-mass planets in its stellar nursery.

“We are particularly interested in this region, because star formation is taking place in very special conditions,” explains Eduardo Martin Guerrero de Escalante of the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias in Tenerife.

NGC 6397

Globular cluster NGC 6397 captured by Euclid space telescope
Globular cluster NGC 6397 captured by Euclid space telescope in a single observation. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid Consortium/NASA)

NGC 6397 is a globular cluster which is located about 7800 light-years away from Earth. It is the second-closest globular cluster to us. Here NGC stands for the New General Catalogue (NGC) of deep-sky objects.

Globular clusters are collections of tens of thousands to millions of stars tightly bound together by gravity. NGC 6397 contains around 400,000 stars.

“Currently no other telescope than Euclid can observe the entire globular cluster and at the same time distinguish its faint stellar members in the outer regions from other cosmic sources,” explains Euclid Consortium scientist Davide Massari of the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy.

NGC 6822

Irregular galaxy NGC 6822 captured by Euclid space telescope
Irregular galaxy NGC 6822 captured by Euclid space telescope. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid Consortium/NASA)

NGC 6822 is an irregular shaped dwarf galaxy which is located only about 1.6 million light-years away from Earth. Like our Milky Way galaxy, NGC 6822 is also a member of the galaxy cluster called Local Group.

Euclid space telescope has capture the entire galaxy NGC 6822 and its surroundings in high resolution in about one hour for the first time. It wouldn’t be possible with the ground based telescopes or targeted space telescopes such as NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope.

NASA’s James Webb Space Telescope has narrow fields of view, which are used to capture very detailed images of small parts of the sky.

Perseus cluster

Perseus cluster captured by Euclid space telescope
Perseus cluster captured by Euclid space telescope. (Image credit: ESA/Euclid Consortium/NASA)

Perseus cluster is a cluster of galaxies which is located about 240 million light-years away from Earth.

Galaxy clusters are the largest objects in the universe which are bound together by their own gravity. A galaxy cluster contains hundreds or thousands of galaxies, hot plasma, and a huge amount of invisible dark matter.

The image contains 1000 galaxies of the Perseus cluster and more than 100,000 background galaxies, which are visible as points of light. Each of the galaxies contains up to a few hundred billion stars.

The Perseus cluster is one of the most massive structures in the universe, containing thousands of galaxies.

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Ashim

Ashim Chandra Sarkar founded Space & Telescope in 2022. He holds a M.Sc. in physics and has five years of research experience in optical astronomy. His passion for astronomy inspired him to open this website. He is responsible for the editorial vision of spaceandtelescope.com.

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