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European Spacecraft Sends Unique Images of the Universe to Earth

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Photo: European Spacecraft Sends Unique Images of the Universe to Earth. Source: ESA
Photo: European Spacecraft Sends Unique Images of the Universe to Earth. Source: ESA

The European Space Agency's spacecraft "Euclid," launched into space last year, has sent five new images of the universe to Earth from its observation point located approximately 1.5 million kilometres from our planet. Among them is an image of a spiral galaxy 30 million light-years away, resembling our Milky Way, and a stunning cloud of distant gas and dust shaped like a jellyfish, reports the Daily Mail.

Other images include a "galaxy cluster" where several galaxies are situated close to each other, held together by gravity. These images, obtained using Euclid's infrared sensors, showcase the broad capabilities of the European Space Agency's spacecraft — from discovering new planets to exploring vast galaxy clusters.

“These are the largest images of the universe ever taken from space, covering large areas of the sky in the finest detail,” said Mark Cropper, professor of astrophysics at University College London.

The most intriguing of the images, according to scientists, is a photograph of the Messier 78 nebula, located about 1,600 light-years from Earth. Nebulae are enormous clouds of dust and gas that occupy the space between stars and serve as sites of active star formation. Messier 78 is shrouded in a veil of interstellar dust, through which Euclid was able to peer using its infrared camera.

The image reveals clumps of gas and dust drawn together by gravity, forming intricate strands of dark orange and pink-purple hues, giving the nebula an overall shape reminiscent of a jellyfish.

ESA describes this image as "unprecedented," as it is the first time this young star-forming region has been captured with such width, depth, and high resolution.

It is worth noting that Euclid is located at L2, the "second Lagrange point" of the Sun-Earth system, the same location as the James Webb Space Telescope. Lagrange points are positions in a two-body system where a third body with negligible mass can remain stationary relative to the two larger bodies.

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