New Space Telescope Aims to Show ‘Dark Universe’ | Space

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European astronomers released the first images from the new Euclid space telescope last week.

The European Space Agency (ESA) and the U.S. space agency, NASA, designed Euclid to study dark matter and dark energy. Scientists think those hidden forms of matter and energy make up 95 percent of the universe.

ESA is leading the six-year mission with NASA as a partner. ESA said the images were the most detailed of their kind. They show the telescope’s ability to observe billions of galaxies up to 10 billion light years away.

The images covered four areas of the sky. They include 1,000 galaxies belonging to the Perseus cluster of galaxies 240 million light years away. In the background, the image shows more than 100,000 galaxies, ESA said.

The cluster is called the Perseus cluster because it appears in the star group, or constellation, Perseus.

Galaxies belonging to the Perseus Cluster and others further away, captured by Euclid telescope. (European Space Agency/Handout via REUTERS)

Scientists believe such large structures like the Perseus cluster could only have formed if dark matter exists.

ESA’s science director Carole Mundell said, “We think we understand only 5 percent of the universe: that’s the matter that we can see.”

“The rest of the universe we call dark,” she continued, “because it doesn’t produce light…But we know its effect because we see the effect on visible matter.”

One sign of dark matter’s hidden force is that galaxies rotate more quickly than scientists expect.

Mundell said it seems to have the effect of pulling together some of the largest structures in the universe, like groups of galaxies.

Dark energy is a new mystery

In the 1990s, scientists largely established the existence of dark matter after studying exploding stars called supernovas. That work resulted in a 2011 Nobel Prize shared between three U.S.-born scientists.

Looking at images from the earlier Hubble Space Telescope, scientists came to believe that the universe…

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