Euclid telescope: First 5 "razor-sharp" images
Europe's 'dark universe' detective, the space-based Euclid telescope, excites with images that "James Webb can't match"
Three months after the Euclid was launched, the European Space Agency (ESA) revealed five "razor-sharp astronomical images" from the space telescope on 7 November.
The agency promises a level of detail that NASA's James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) cannot deliver.
"Euclid is the first to capture the entire galaxy and its surroundings in high resolution in about one hour, which would not be possible with telescopes on the ground or with Webb," said the ESA.
Euclid: a six-year mission
Dark matter and dark energy make up 95 per cent of the universe, but we don't fully understand what they are or how they behave.
ESA's director of science, Carole Mundell, said: "Euclid will make a leap in our understanding of the cosmos as a whole, and these exquisite images show that the mission is ready to help answer one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics."
And these images are just the start...
Image #1: The Horsehead Nebula
Also known as Barnard 33, the Horsehead Nebula (above) is part of the constellation Orion.
Scientists hope to find previously unseen planets in their celestial infancy and baby stars in this panoramic view.
Image #2: The Perseus Cluster of galaxies
ESA describes this as "a revolution for astronomy". The so-called "snapshot" shows 1,000 galaxies in the Perseus Cluster, and more than 100,000 additional galaxies in the background.
Image #3: Spiral galaxy IC 342
This is the first of billions of galaxies that Euclid aims to detect over its operational lifetime: it is nicknamed the 'Hidden Galaxy', but its "real" name is IC 342 or Caldwell 5. Details about the stars in this galaxy were uncovered only after studying it under Euclid's infrared view.
It is hoped that by studying this lookalike of our Milky Way, Euclid will plumb the unseen influence that dark matter and dark energy have on galaxies such as this one.
Euclid: The dark universe detective
It's hard to grasp the concept of dark matter and dark energy — especially when the ESA says the two don't directly affect our everyday lives.
According to the ESA, dark matter can be "completely and safely ignored" because it rarely interacts with normal matter — living things like human animals, other animals or plants — and dark energy is only detected over distances of 100 million light years, so it too can be "safely ignored at the human scale".
But scientists think that dark matter and dark energy have played a significant role in the evolution of the universe, and since we live in the universe, we should try to understand as much as we can about it.
Image #4: Irregular galaxy NGC 6822
Located 1.6 million light years from Earth, galaxy NGC 6822 is considered to be relatively close.
Image #5: Globular cluster NGC 6397
Euclid is the only operational telescope that can observe an entire globular cluster, such as NGC 6397, in one shot.
A globular cluster is a gathering of hundreds of thousands of stars that are held together by gravity.
What's next for Euclid?
Over the next six years, it's hoped that Euclid will survey one third of the sky. The mission will release a bank of data annually.
aims to create a 3D map of the universe to help scientists explain two fundamental mysteries of nature: dark matter and dark energy.
Euclid is a European mission, consisting of more than 2,000 scientists, including contributions from NASA, and featuring collaborations with 300 scientific institutes in 13 European countries, the US, Canada and Japan.