First pictures from Euclid satellite reveal billions of orphan stars | Science & Technology

The first scientific pictures from the Euclid satellite mission have revealed more than 1,500 billion orphan stars scattered throughout the Perseus cluster of galaxies.

Led by astronomers from the University of Nottingham, this discovery sheds light on the origins of these celestial wanderers.

The Perseus cluster, located 240 million light-years away from Earth, is one of the Universe’s most massive structures, boasting thousands of galaxies. However, amidst this cosmic ensemble, the Euclid satellite captured faint ghostly light — the orphan stars — drifting between the cluster’s galaxies.

Stars naturally form within galaxies, so the presence of orphan stars outside these structures raised intriguing questions about their origins.

Professor Nina Hatch, who led the project team, said, “We were surprised by our ability to see so far into the outer regions of the cluster and discern the subtle colours of this light. This light can help us map dark matter if we understand where the intracluster stars came from. By studying their colours, luminosity, and configurations, we found they originated from small galaxies.”

The orphan stars are characterised by their bluish hue and clustered arrangement. Based on these distinctive features the astronomers involved in the study suggest that the stars were torn from the outskirts of galaxies and from the complete disruption of smaller cluster galaxies, known as dwarfs.

After being torn from their parent galaxies, the orphaned stars were expected to orbit around the largest galaxy within the cluster. However, this study revealed a surprising finding: the orphan stars instead circled a point between the two most luminous galaxies in the cluster.

Dr Jesse Golden-Marx, a Nottingham astronomer involved in the study, commented, “This novel observation suggests that the massive Perseus cluster may have recently undergone a merger with another group of galaxies. This recent merger could have induced a gravitational disturbance,…


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