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First results from Euclid's telescope

First results from Euclid's telescope

The first results of the Euclid space probe, launched last summer: it observed in particular a large number of floating planets wandering in space, without stars.


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New Euclid image of the star-forming region Messier 78. All data from the first observations were published on May 23, 2024, including a host of unprecedented new views of the nearby universe, including this image.  (ESA/Euclid/Euclid Union/NASA/Image processing by J.-C. Coulander (CEA Paris-Saclay) / J. Anselmi)

Mathilde Fontes, editor-in-chief of the scientific journal Epsilon It takes us into space, with its first results European Euclid Telescope, was launched last summer. And reveals galaxies Clusters of galaxies and isolated planets, alone in space, without stars.

France Info: All this data was published on May 23?

Mathilde Fontes: Yes, this is just the first batch of results from this telescope whose mission will last for 6 years. that it A big mission from the European Space Agency: 1.4 billion euros, in cooperation with 2,500 researchers and engineers. Its main goal is not planets, but rather measuring the dark matter of the universe, which is 95% of the content of the universe, which is still unknown: we are talking about dark matter, dark energy. We see signs without knowing their nature.

But it is true that these are the planets that emerged in this first harvest of scientific results, published last week: the discovery of floating planets, in the Orion Cloud, the star formation region, and the nursery of stars: The telescope discovered 300,000 new objectsSome of them are not associated with any star.

Euclid Space Telescope.  (European Space Agency)

Planets without sun?

Yes, astrophysicists call them “floating planets” or “wandering planets.” They're big, at least the ones we see, bigger than the gas giants in our solar system. And they are 3 million years old: they are very young – our Earth is 4.5 billion years old.

They are very hot, and therefore very bright in the infrared, which is why the Euclid Telescope was able to detect them. They float in space, alone.

New Euclid image of the Dorado cluster of galaxies.  (ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium / NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi)

Did we know that this type of planet could exist?

It's been about ten years since astrophysicists started seeing them. We first believed in certain atypical cases. Then two years ago, a French team discovered about a hundred of them at once, making it possible to produce statistics. There will be many. It is estimated that there are between 2 and 3 million of them roaming our galaxy.

Which raises the question of how they are formed: Normally, planets are born with stars, in a cloud of dust. Have these planets been expelled from their planetary systems? Were they born with a new mechanism like the stars? At the moment there is no response. We can only try to imagine it: planets orbiting in the dark, where there is never morning, nor evening, nor light…

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