The house mission will research 10 billion years of cosmic historical past to know why our universe’s growth is accelerating.
This artist’s idea reveals the Euclid spacecraft shortly after launch. Credit score: ESA. Acknowledgement: Work carried out by ATG beneath contract for ESA., CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO
The universe’s growth is dashing up, and astrophysicists wish to know why.
On July 1st, the European Area Company (ESA) is ready to launch a brand new house telescope, Euclid. With contributions from NASA, the mission will search to know the unknown trigger for the accelerating growth, referred to as darkish vitality, and its results on the evolution of our universe.
The Euclid spacecraft measures about 14.5 toes (4.4 meters) lengthy, or concerning the common measurement of a canoe, and homes a 1.2-meter telescope. It should catch a trip to house aboard Area X’s Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral, Florida.
After launch, Euclid will comply with a course to its last orbital location, the Solar-Earth Lagrange level L2. (That is additionally the place the James Webb Area Telescope orbits.) It should take Euclid about 4 weeks to get to L2, which is positioned about 930,000 miles (1.5 million kilometers) from Earth, the place the craft will face away from the Solar.
As soon as in orbit, mission operators will activate and confirm that Euclid’s two devices are functioning. Euclid’s group will calibrate the telescope and put together it for observations one to a few months after launch.
The mission will create the universe’s largest and most correct 3D map by observing billions of galaxies out to a distance of 10 billion light-years. In whole, Euclid will survey greater than a 3rd of the sky. With these observations, scientists will piece collectively how and large-scale buildings of the universe have expanded over time. The mission additionally goals to uncover extra about gravity’s function within the universe and the habits of darkish vitality and darkish matter.
The darkish universe
Since its delivery, the universe has been increasing. After discovering this truth, researchers at first thought that the gravity of matter strewn all through house would finally sluggish the growth. As a substitute, after observing supernovae within the Nineteen Nineties with the Hubble Area Telescope, astronomers discovered that about six to eight billion years in the past, the universe’s growth started accelerating, though nobody understands why.
The phenomenon driving the acceleration is named darkish vitality, which is completely different from darkish matter. About 68 p.c of the universe is manufactured from this darkish vitality. Euclid will search for the affect of darkish vitality or adjustments in gravity’s affect all through the universe over time by observing how galaxies have clustered collectively throughout completely different cosmic eras in its historical past.
Darkish matter, however, consists of particles and is estimated to make up 27 p.c of the whole contents of the universe. Darkish matter is invisible, making it tough to detect. However like regular matter, darkish matter has mass and gravity, a horny pressure. So, astronomers can observe it not directly, similar to when galaxy clusters warp the sunshine of objects behind them, referred to as gravitational lensing. As a result of all of the seen matter seen in galaxy clusters is inadequate to create the precise warping results noticed, researchers consider dark matter provides the added gravity for the distortions. So, Euclid will research the buildup of darkish matter all through the universe utilizing gravitational lensing.
Euclid isn’t the one telescope aiming to reply very important questions on our universe’s historical past and future. NASA will launch the Nancy Grace Roman Area Telescope by Might 2027, which is able to group up with Euclid to check cosmic acceleration.
“Twenty-five years after its discovery, the universe’s accelerated growth stays one of the crucial urgent mysteries in astrophysics,” stated Jason Rhodes, a senior analysis scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and deputy challenge scientist for Roman and the U.S. science lead for Euclid, in a statement. “With these upcoming telescopes, we are going to measure darkish vitality in several methods and with way more precision than beforehand achievable, opening up a brand new period of exploration into this thriller.”