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 Euclid-missie infographic
Graphic shows Euclid Dark Universe mission.
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Donker-universum-missie Euclid

By Duncan Mil

June 27, 2023 - Europe’s Euclid space telescope will explore the evolution of the dark universe over the past 10 billion years. Dark energy and dark matter make up 95% of the cosmos, but scientists remain unsure about what they are.

Euclid is scheduled to launch on July 1 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and then begin its mission of studying the mysteries of dark energy and matter.

These two “dark” components make up more than 95 per cent of the cosmos, but they are invisible, hence their names. Dark energy and matter have proven annoyingly elusive for the better part of a century.

Astronomers infer the existence of dark matter from the behaviour of the stars and galaxies. The first hint of dark matter’s existence came in 1933 when Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky calculated that the Virgo Cluster of galaxies didn’t have enough visible mass in the form of gas and stars to hold it together. There must be some invisible matter, or else it would fly apart.

“Dark energy and dark matter reveal themselves by the fairly subtle changes they make to the appearance of objects in the visible universe; otherwise, we don’t know about them,” René Laureijs, Euclid project scientist, said in a live-streamed European Space Agency briefing.

Euclid has two scientific instruments: a visible light camera to measure the shape of galaxies and a near-infrared camera/spectrometer to measure their brightness and distance. The two instruments will work together to infer where the dark matter may be lurking by charting its effects on visible objects.

Euclid’s image quality will be at least four times sharper than ground-based telescopes.

Sources
PUBLISHED: 27/06/2023; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: ESA, NASA
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