Dozens of galaxies discovered as stunning new images of our universe released

A filamentary orange veil covers a bright region of star formation. The background is dark, stippled with stars and galaxies ranging from small bright dots to starry shapes. The foreground veil spans from upper left to the bottom right and resembles a seahorse. Bright stars light up the ‘eye’ and ‘chest’ regions of the seahorse with purple light. Within the tail, three bright spots sit in a traffic-light like formation.
Euclid's new image of star-forming region Messier 78 Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA

Scientists from the European Space Agency (ESA) have released the first scientific data and five new images from their Euclid satellite showing crystal clear images of our Universe.

The telescope was launched in July last year and aims to map the 'dark universe'. 95% of space is made up of so called dark matter which we can't see and know very little about.

Euclid is able to produce images 4x sharper than those from Earth based telescopes.

Euclid captures NGC 6744, one of the largest spiral galaxies beyond our local patch of space. Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA

Chrisopher Conselice, Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at The University of Manchester, said: “Euclid will completely revolutionise our view of the Universe.

"Already these results are revealing important new findings about local galaxies, new unknown dwarf galaxies, extrasolar planets and some of the first galaxies.

"These results are only the tip of the iceberg in terms of what will come. Soon Euclid will discover yet unknown details of the dark energy and give a full picture of how galaxy formation occurred across all cosmic time.”

The images, taken over just one day in November catalogue more than 11 million objects in visible light and five million more in infrared light.

Euclid captures a range of objects in this patch of sky, including many background galaxies, more distant galaxy clusters. Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA

In total, 29 galaxies were discovered providing insight into the first billion years of the Universe.

Dr Rebecca Bowler, Ernest Rutherford Fellow at The University of Manchester, said: “In these spectacular images we can see galaxies that were previously invisible, because the most distant galaxies can only be discovered using the longer near-infrared wavelengths seen by Euclid.

“What is amazing is that these images cover an area of less than 1% of the full deep observations, showing that we expect to detect thousands of early galaxies in the next few years with Euclid, which will be revolutionary in understanding how and when galaxies formed after the Big Bang.”

The images obtained by Euclid are at least four times sharper than those that can be taken from ground-based telescopes.

They cover large patches of sky at unrivalled depth, looking far into the distant Universe using both visible and infrared light.

The next challenge is to map what we can't see. Data revealing the secrets of dark matter will hopefully be released next year.

Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...