Wednesday, November 08, 2023

Spiral Galaxy IC 342 in Camelopardalis | ESA Euclid Space Telescope

Spiral Galaxy IC 342 in Camelopardalis | ESA Euclid Space Telescope

One of the first galaxies that the European Space Agency's new Euclid space telescope observed is nicknamed the ‘Hidden Galaxy’. This galaxy, also known as IC 342 or Caldwell 5, is difficult to observe because it lies behind the busy disc of our Milky Way, and so dust, gas and stars obscure our view. Euclid could take this beautiful and sharp image thanks to its incredible sensitivity and superb optics. Most important here is that Euclid used its near-infrared instrument to peer through the dust and measure the light from the many cool and low-mass stars that dominate the galaxy's mass. 

IC 342 is located around 11 million light-years from Earth, very nearby our own galaxy (in astronomical distances). It is as large as the full Moon on the sky. And as a spiral galaxy, it is considered a look-alike of the Milky Way. “It is difficult to study our own galaxy as we are within it and can only see it edge on. So, by studying galaxies like IC 342, we can learn a lot about galaxies like our own,” adds Leslie.

Image Description: A big spiral galaxy is visible face-on in white/pink colors at the center of this square astronomical image. The galaxy covers almost the entire image and appears whiter at its center where more stars are located. Its spiral arms stretch out across the image and appear fainter at the edges. The entire image is speckled with stars ranging in color from blue to white to yellow/red, across a black background of space. Blue stars are younger and red stars are older. A few of the stars are a bit larger than the rest, with six diffraction spikes.

“That’s what is so brilliant about Euclid images. In one shot, it can see the whole galaxy in all its beautiful detail,” explains Euclid Consortium scientist Leslie Hunt of the National Institute for Astrophysics in Italy, on behalf of a broader team working on showcasing galaxies imaged by Euclid.

“This image might look normal, as if every telescope can make such an image, but that is not true. What’s so special here is that we have a wide view covering the entire galaxy, but we can also zoom in to distinguish single stars and star clusters. This makes it possible to trace the history of star formation and better understand how stars formed and evolved over the lifetime of the galaxy.”

Image Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA

Image Processing: J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO

#NASA #ESA #ESAEuclid #Astronomy #Space #Science #Galaxy #IC342 #Caldwell5 #SpiralGalaxy #Camelopardalis #Constellation #Cosmos #Universe #EST #EuclidSpaceTelescope #Europe #STEM #Education

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