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Amazing new images of galaxies and nebulae caught by Euclid telescope

The Euclid space telescope team has released its first science images. They show sparkling clusters of galaxies, an astonishingly sharp image of a nearby spiral galaxy and a colourful cloud of interstellar gas that is home to hundreds of thousands of young stars.

The above picture shows a star-forming region called Messier 78. Euclid is so much more sensitive than previous telescopes that it revealed more than 300,000 new objects in this image alone, most of them newborn stars. Some of those objects are also rogue planets, which float around on their own rather than orbiting stars. They were previously impossible to spot in this area.

The next two images, below, are clusters of galaxies called Abell 2390 and Abell 2764. Many of Euclid’s future observations will show clusters like these – one of the telescope’s main goals is to map the cosmos’ dark matter, and the way that light from distant galaxies warps as it travels past these clusters is one way to spot dark matter’s gravitational effects.

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Euclid also took images of individual galaxies within clusters, like the two shown in the image below. These galaxies are part of the Dorado group, and they are in the midst of a complex dance of hurtling past one another and eventually merging.

The last picture of the set, below, is an enormous spiral galaxy called NGC 6744. Detailed images like this will allow researchers to study galaxy formation in exquisite detail – they have already used the Euclid data to spot a never-before-seen dwarf galaxy orbiting NGC 6744.

These five images, along with 12 others that haven’t yet been fully analysed, were all taken in only 24 hours of observation time. “At completion of the mission, the Euclid sky map will be the most detailed picture of the sky ever, so basically this gives you a hint of the observatory’s capability,” says Roland Vavrek, a member of the Euclid team at the European Space Agency. “If all this comes out of one day, it says how much data will come out of the mission over six years.”

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