ESA Euclid Space Mission first image release

ESA’s Euclid space mission, launched on 1 July, finally reveals its first full-colour images of the cosmos. Never before has a telescope been able to create such razor-sharp astronomical images across such a large patch of the sky, and looking so far into the distant Universe, up to distances of 10 billion light years. These five images illustrate Euclid’s full potential and show that the telescope is ready to create the most extensive 3D map of the Universe yet.

The Spanish contribution to the payload of the Euclid telescope has been organised around two poles that joined the scientific consortium in 2010. On the one hand, the Institute of Space Sciences (ICE-CSIC), the Institute of High Energy Physics (IFAE), the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) and the Scientific Information Port (PIC), which is a collaboration between IFAE and Centro de Investigaciones Energéticas, Medioambientales y Tecnológicas (CIEMAT), have been responsible for the design, construction, assembly and validation tests of the NISP instrument filter wheel, as well as the cosmological simulations of the mission. On the other hand, the Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT) and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), have been in charge of the electronic unit that controls the NISP instrument and its startup software, besides participating in several teams to prepare the scientific exploitation of telescope data. Furthermore, in more than 20 Spanish institutions there are around 100 scientists arranging the scientific exploitation of the mission to unravel the mysteries of the dark universe. The mission aims at investigating dark matter and dark energy, that make up 95% of our cosmos. Its nature has not been unravelled yet, because their presence causes only very subtle changes in the appearance and motions of the things we can see. To reveal the influence of dark matter and dark energy on the visible Universe, over the next six years Euclid will observe the shapes, distances and motions of billions of galaxies out to 10 billion light-years. By doing this, it will create the largest cosmic 3D map ever made. What makes Euclid’s view of the cosmos special is its ability to create a remarkably sharp visible and infrared image across a huge part of the sky in just one sitting.

“We have been involved in the design and development of the infrastructure that finally transforms raw data into these beautiful images for more than 10 years. The work has been done by a small but very motivated group under sometimes challenging circumstances. It is extremely satisfying to see these first results and knowing that there will be some very exciting scientific discoveries.”, says Christian Neissner, the coordinator of the Spanish Scientific Data Center (SDC-ES), which forms part of the Euclid Scientific Ground Segment. The SDC’s work in collaboration with the Cosmological Simulations Science Working Group (CSWG) and the Simulation Organisation Unit (OU-SIM) is fundamental for the analysis of the images and spectra obtained by the Euclid instruments.

Jorge Carretero, the SDC contact to the CSWG, adds: “Absolutely thrilled to see the first images from the Euclid telescope showcasing its full capabilities and the operation of the instruments. After over a decade of dedication and being a part of the collaboration and various working groups, this moment is truly a career highlight”.

“Dark matter pulls galaxies together and causes them to spin more rapidly than visible matter alone can account for; dark energy is driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe. Euclid will for the first-time allow cosmologists to study these competing dark mysteries together,” explains ESA Director of Science, Professor Carole Mundell. “Euclid will make a leap in our understanding of the cosmos as a whole, and these exquisite Euclid images show that the mission is ready to help answer one of the greatest mysteries of modern physics.” “I wish to congratulate and thank everyone involved with making this ambitious mission a reality, which is a reflection of European excellence and international collaboration. The first images captured by Euclid are awe-inspiring and remind us of why it is essential that we go to space to learn more about the mysteries of the Universe,” says ESA Director General Josef Aschbacher.


Zoom into the Universe through Euclid’s eyes

The Perseus Cluster of galaxies

The Perseus Cluster of galaxies. Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
This incredible snapshot from Euclid is a revolution for astronomy. The image shows 1000 galaxies belonging to the Perseus Cluster, and more than 100 000 additional galaxies further away in the background. Many of these faint galaxies were previously unseen. Some of them are so distant that their light has taken 10 billion years to reach us. By mapping the distribution and shapes of these galaxies, cosmologists will be able to find out more about how dark
matter shaped the Universe that we see today. This is the first time that such a large image has allowed us to capture so many Perseus galaxies in such a high level of detail. Perseus is one of the most massive structures known in the Universe, located ‘just’ 240 million light-years away from Earth. Astronomers demonstrated that galaxy clusters like Perseus can only have formed if dark matter is present in the Universe. Euclid will observe numerous galaxy clusters like Perseus across cosmic time, revealing the ‘dark’ element that holds them together.


Spiral galaxy IC 342


Spiral Galaxy IC 342. Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
Over its lifetime, Euclid will image billions of galaxies, revealing the unseen influence that dark matter and dark energy have on them. That’s why it’s fitting that one of the first galaxies that Euclid observed is nicknamed the ‘Hidden Galaxy’, also known as IC 342 or Caldwell 5. Thanks to its infrared view, Euclid has already uncovered crucial information about the stars in this galaxy, which is a look-alike of our Milky Way.


Irregular galaxy NGC 6822

Irregular galaxy NGC 6822. Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
To create a 3D map of the Universe, Euclid will observe the light from galaxies out to 10 billion light-years. Most galaxies in the early Universe don’t look like the quintessential neat spiral, but are irregular and small. They are the building blocks for bigger galaxies like our own, and we can still find some of these galaxies relatively close to us. This first irregular dwarf galaxy that Euclid observed is called NGC 6822 and is located close by, just 1.6 million light-years from Earth.


Globular cluster NGC 6397

Globular cluster NGC 6397. Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
This sparkly image shows Euclid’s view on a globular cluster called NGC 6397. This is the second-closest globular cluster to Earth, located about 7800 light-years away. Globular clusters are collections of hundreds of thousands of stars held together by gravity. Currently no other telescope than Euclid can observe an entire globular cluster in one single observation, and at the same time distinguish so many stars in the cluster. These faint stars tell us about the history of the Milky Way and where dark matter is located.


The Horsehead Nebula

Horsehead Nebula. Credits: ESA/Euclid/Euclid Consortium/NASA, image processing by J.-C. Cuillandre (CEA Paris-Saclay), G. Anselmi; CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO.
Euclid shows us a spectacularly panoramic and detailed view of the Horsehead Nebula, also known as Barnard 33 and part of the constellation Orion. In Euclid’s new observation of this stellar nursery, scientists hope to find many dim and previously unseen Jupiter-mass planets in their celestial infancy, as well as young brown dwarfs and baby stars.

“In the first images of Euclid we are already obtaining that expectations are exceeded, allowing us to go beyond what was expected in the limits of detection. We are sure that, in the coming years, Euclid will help us discover an unprecedented number of dark ultracold objects of substellar mass, facilitating a great advance in the investigation of their curious properties and it is even possible that we can reveal their mysterious origin,” says Eduardo Martín Guerrero de Escalante, IAC research professor, principal investigator of this Euclid image and one of the two Euclid mission Independent Legacy Scientists.

New discoveries, soon

Each image individually contains a wealth of new information about the nearby Universe. “In the coming months, scientists in the Euclid Consortium will analyse these images and publish a series of scientific papers in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, together with papers about the scientific objectives of the Euclid mission and the instrument performance,” adds Yannick Mellier, Euclid Consortium lead. Euclid launched to the Sun-Earth Lagrange point 2 from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, USA, on 1 July 2023. In the months after launch, scientists and engineers have been engaged in an intense phase of testing and calibrating Euclid’s scientific instruments. The team is doing the last fine-tuning of the spacecraft before routine science observations begin in early 2024. Over six years, Euclid will survey one third of the sky with unprecedented accuracy. As the mission progresses, Euclid’s bank of data will be released once per year, and will be available to the global scientific community via the Astronomy Science Archives hosted at ESA’s European Space Astronomy Centre in Spain.

More Information

Euclid is a space mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) with contributions from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). It is the second M-class mission in ESA’s Cosmic Vision programme.

The visible instrument (VIS) and the Near Infrared Spectrometer and Photometer (NISP) instrument were developed and built by a consortium of scientists and engineers from 15 countries, many from Europe, but also from the USA, Canada and Japan.

Spain has an important involvement in the mission, with a prominent role in the Consortium that has led the mission from its origin. The ICE-CSIC, the IFAE and the IEEC have been involved since 2006 in the initial concepts of the mission and have been responsible for the design, construction, assembly and validation tests of the Filter Wheel Assembly (FWA) of the NISP instrument. Together with PIC they are responsible for the cosmological simulation effort in the Euclid mission. The Polytechnic University of Cartagena (UPCT), in collaboration with the Instituto de Astrofísica de Canarias (IAC), has been responsible for the design, construction and validation of the control electronics of the NISP Instrument.

In addition, around 80 European companies participate in Euclid, of which 9 are Spanish, including Airbus, Alter Technology, Crisa, Deimos Space, GTD, Navair, Sener and Thales Alenia Space Spain. In more than 20 Spanish institutions, there are around 100 scientists preparing the scientific exploitation of the mission to unravel the mysteries of the dark universe.

Video Euclid:


PIC included in the updated ICTS Map

The Council for Science, Technology and Innovation Policy of the Ministry of Science and Innovation has approved the update of the Map of Singular Scientific and Technical Infrastructures (ICTS) of Spain for 2021-2024 with the incorporation of four new infrastructures, including PIC.

PIC joined the Spanish Supercomputing Network (RES) in 2020, an infrastructure that connects 14 supercomputing centers in Spain and since 2007 has been providing high-performance computing services to the scientific community. The RES is recognized as an ICTS by the Ministry of Science. As of today, PIC, as a node of this distributed infrastructure, also obtains this recognition.

The inclusion of PIC in the new ICTS map is an important milestone for the center, as it recognizes the work of our center during almost two decades in large-scale scientific data analysis and will open new avenues for establishing collaborations with research groups facing data analysis challenges, and for funding these activities.

Click here for more information on ICTS members,

PIC updated network to 200Gbps

The experiments to which PIC gives resources and support need more and more network bandwidth every day. For this reason, we started two years ago to plan the migration to a 200Gbps network connection that today finally was applied. We multiplied by 10 our network capacity by updating also our internal network by adding more redundancy and better monitoring.

The implemented solution is based on Arista devices and the migration process has been done with the collaboration of SATEC. We really would like to thank them for their help.

The update was possible with the funding for the acquisition of technical equipment for science of the national program for infrastructures and technical equipment for science (national plan i+d+i 2017-2020) from the Ministry of Science, Innovation and Universities, for the project Ref. EQC2019-006020-P: “Actualización de la infraestructura de red para mejora de los servicios de datos multi-disciplinares en el PIC”.

Gaia mission’s EDR3 available on Cosmohub

The CosmoHub service at PIC now provides the Early Data Release 3 (EDR3) of the Gaia mission. The early access is possible because PIC recently became one of the affiliated sites of Gaia.

Gaia is an ambitious mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our Galaxy, the Milky Way, in the process revealing the composition, formation and evolution of the Galaxy.

In its now available third data release, the object catalog features 1.8 billion objects with unprecedented positional and radial velocity measurements.

You can access the data as part of the public catalogs distributed through CosmoHub.

PIC finished the contribution to Euclid’s GSIR

Euclid’s Ground Segment Implementation Review is an official ESA’s review of the status of the Ground Segment of the project, including the SGS (Science Ground Segment) to which PIC belongs. 

PIC contributed to the data package for the Data Processing Panel, which shall assess the status of the Processing Functions (PF) as well as the ability of the SGS to produce and distribute Q1 data products. In order to demonstrate this, the SGS simulated and processed the equivalent to a full day of observation (~10 square degrees). PIC played a key role in this effort, providing the input catalogs, running part of the simulations and producing the documentation relative to the Simulations PF.

The GSIR production (SWF1 & 2 & 3) laid the groundwork for the much more ambitious Scientific Challenge 8 Main Area production, taking place in mid 2021, which will cover ~600 square degrees. Image by H. Aussel.

Dark Energy Survey Data Release 2

The object catalog of the Data Release 2 (DR2) of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) has been ingested into the CosmoHub service. DES is based on optical/near-infrared imaging by the Dark Energy Camera mounted on the 4-m Blanco telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile. DR2 consists of single-epoch and coadded images, a source catalog derived from coadded images and associated data products assembled from 6 years of DES science operation. The release includes data from the 5000 deg2 wide-area survey covering the southern Galactic cap in 5 broad photometric bands.

The now available catalog consists of 691,483,608 objects with about 480 parameters. The total size of the catalog is ~3 TiB. The DES DR2 catalog is available for exploration and download at

PIC puts computing capacity at the service of the COVID-19 research

PIC is putting its computing capacity at the service of the COVID-19 research.

PIC has been running clients of the Folding@Home collaborative computational project in part of its GPU nodes since April 1st. These nodes are normally used by IFAE researchers to analyze astrophysics or particle physics data and now they have been reconfigured to simulate protein folding as part of the Folding@Home worldwide network. 

The Folding@Home project uses computer simulations to understand how proteins fold into 3D shapes to perform various functions. Viruses have proteins that they use to suppress our immune systems and reproduce themselves. To help tackle coronavirus, the simulations aim to understand how these viral proteins work to help design therapeutics to stop them.

In the coming days, the amount of resources at PIC devoted to the Folding@Home effort are expected to grow substantially, as the LHC experiments at CERN roll out a coordinated effort to dedicate part of the world-wide LHC data processing infrastructure to COVID-19 research boosting Folding@Home computing capacity. As one of the nodes in the LHC infrastructure, PIC will participate in this initiative. The results of the simulations will be published in the open repository Zenodo, run by CERN.

The Folding@Home project has got a lot of attention in the last weeks and thousands of volunteer computing resources are joining this common effort. More than one million computers are now part of the system, adding up to an estimated computing capacity of 1.5 exaflops, ten times higher than that of the world’s most powerful supercomputer.

On the other hand, IFAE is preparing new projects to use innovative technologies developed for research in particle physics in COVID-19 research, such as the detection of virus biomarkers in blood using single-photon detectors. Other projects in preparation will use the PIC calculation capacity for epidemiological studies and deep learning.


KiDS, Legacy Surveys DR8, COSMOS and more, now available in CosmoHub

A few days ago, we celebrated the 3rd anniversary of the rebirth of CosmoHub on its Big Data platform. As you might know, CosmoHub started as a tool for the distribution of PAU catalogs. Because of the limited data volume this task was achieved by an instance of a SQL relational database capable of handling datasets in the low Terabyte range. Since its beginning, CosmoHub has proven to be very useful for other surveys. The immense increase in data, that will soon reach a few 100s of Terabytes, finally led to the migration to Hadoop. The migration entailed a massive boost in performance and many new features of which you can take advantage today. 

In a nutshell, in its most recent incarnation CosmoHub ( is a web platform for the interactive exploration and distribution of massive cosmological datasets. It serves dozens of catalogs to hundreds of users. Further, it has become the reference access point to the PAU catalogs and the synthetic galaxy catalogs derived off the Euclid Flagship dark matter simulations.

We wanted to celebrate this amazing achievement with all the CosmoHub supporters, and what better way of doing this than making available the largest set of public catalogs since our launch.

Since today, there are 9 new public catalogs available:

  • DEEP2 redshift catalog DR4: The survey targeted ~50,000 distant galaxies in the redshift range 0 < z < 1.4, utilizing the DEIMOS spectroscopic on the Keck II telescope.
  • ZEST: Zurich Structure & Morphology Catalog from a COSMOS sample
  • KiDS DR4: provides reprocessed pixel and catalog data products for a roughly 1000 square degrees of the sky.
  • COSMOS2015: contains precise photometric redshifts and stellar masses for more than half a million objects over the 2deg2 COSMOS field.
  • DESI Legacy Survey DR8: 14,000 square degrees of extragalactic sky visible from the northern hemisphere in three optical bands (g,r,z) and four infrared bands.
  • CANDELS Bulge-disk decompositions: A catalog of polychromatic bulge-disk decompositions of ~17.600 galaxies in CANDELS.
  • DES Y1A1 gold catalog: ~137 million objects detected in co-added images covering ~1800 deg 2 in the DES grizY filters.
  • DES Y1A1 morphology catalog: structural and morphological catalogue for 45 million objects selected from the first year data of the Dark Energy Survey (DES).
  • VIPERS (photometry and spectroscopy): second and final data release (PDR-2) of the VIMOS Public Extragalactic Redshift Survey (VIPERS).

As always, we are more than happy to answer all of your questions and requests, just hit us up at

The CosmoHub Team