Our astronomers and cosmologists are involved in an international satellite mission to map the dark Universe.
The European Space Agency's (ESA) Euclid flagship Dark Energy Satellite Mission successfully launched from Cape Canaveral, in Florida, on Saturday 1 July on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.
Euclid’s six-year mission is to map the dark Universe, using the positions of galaxies and images of dark matter produced from the gravitational lensing distortions of distant galaxies.
This will tell scientists about the accelerating expansion of the Universe, which is driven by dark energy, and the dark matter which binds galaxies together allowing stars, planets and life to form.
By analysing this information, astronomers hope to be able to determine the nature of both dark matter and dark energy.
The Euclid team will carry out a very precise and accurate analysis of the images of 1.5 billion galaxies over one-third of the sky.
Euclid will also measure the spectrum of light from over 35 million galaxies to accurately measure their distance from Earth.
Durham has used supercomputer simulations to create mock data used to train Euclid’s analysis software.
Researchers will also compare Euclid’s real observations against these simulations to help them interpret the information captured by Euclid.
We’ve also hosted a series of postdoctoral researchers from the UK, Germany, France and the USA to work on the mission.
Many of these researchers have been making Euclid’s camera more tolerant to the high radiation environment that it will need to survive in above the Earth’s atmosphere.
Learning from our experience with the Hubble Space Telescope, Durham leads Euclid's radiation monitoring and mitigation strategy.
Discover more about the Euclid mission in the UK and visit the European Space Agency’s Euclid webpages.
Professor Richard Massey, of Durham’s Centre for Extragalactic Astronomy/Institute for Computational Cosmology, is a founder of the Euclid mission and has been developing its design and science goals for 20 years Professors Carlton Baugh and Mathilde Jauzac, also of Durham’s Institute for Computational Cosmology, are members of the Euclid Consortium.
Durham carried out the computer simulations on the DiRAC Memory Intensive Service (“COSMA”) supercomputer, hosted by the University on behalf of the UK’s DiRAC High-Performance Computing facility.
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Main image - Artist’s impression of the Euclid mission in space. Credit: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA. Background galaxies: NASA, ESA, and S. Beckwith (STScI) and the HUDF Team, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.