Space: Will we solve the mystery of dark matter thanks to the Euclid satellite?

Space: Will we solve the mystery of dark matter thanks to the Euclid satellite?

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In astronomy, new knowledge is constantly improving our understanding of the universe and our origins. But there’s something that specialists know almost nothing about: dark matter. If the estimated amount is more than six times greater than normal matter, it has not yet been directly observed. The launch of the Euclid satellite, on Saturday, July 1, will make it possible to discover more. explanations.

Everything we know is made up of atoms and molecules, collectively referred to as ordinary matter. However, all the cumulative mass of this matter makes up only 5% of the universe. Everything else remains a mystery to man.

“Dark matter has a gravitational effect on the massive objects (galaxies) that surround it and it seems that it does not consist of ordinary matter,” explains Johann Richard, an astronomer at the Lyon Observatory. These are about the only certainties related to it, because it is not visible. Moreover, no experiment or observation has failed to reveal its composition. Nor is it certain that this substance is truly “black in colour.”

Matter found everywhere in the universe

Its discovery dates back to 1933. Physicist Frantz Zwicky says it is possible to estimate the mass of the cluster. However, the observations do not match the theories. He deduces that the galaxies must be “bathing” in something, and that the basic component of cluster is “invisible”.

The theory was confirmed in the 1970s, when astronomer Vera Rubin also studied galaxies. Thus, most of the galaxies studied will be partly composed of this mysterious substance.

“Dark matter always seems to be present where there is visible matter,” Johan Richard specifies. It makes up the universe and even includes all ordinary matter.

Two new missions for new discoveries

Dark matter is questioning the scientific community around the world. Numerous space observatories have scanned space in search of definitive evidence of its existence.

The Euclid Space Observatory launched on Saturday 1any July 2023 will make it possible to observe distant galaxies, the light of which is deflected by celestial bodies located between them and the Earth (this is called the effect of gravitational lensing). With its modern instruments, it will make it possible to obtain an accurate map of the evolution of the distribution of dark matter and ordinary matter in the universe.

Finally, in the year 2025, the Chilean Vera Rubin Observatory, which is currently under construction, should make it possible to study the distribution of nearly 40 billion galaxies thanks to a telescope of 8.4 meters in diameter, which is an exceptional instrument.

European telescopes on the front line

Three European telescopes have revealed more about this substance from the first rays of the universe:

  • Thus, the Chandra Observatory (1999) confirmed the existence of dark matter thanks to the study of collisions between galaxy clusters.
  • The Planck satellite (2013) made it possible to measure subtle temperature fluctuations in regions sometimes located near the Big Bang, caused by different densities of matter.
  • The mission of the XMM-Newton (2018) space telescope is to discover missing matter in spiral galaxies (of which our galaxy is a part).
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