The University of Southampton

Professor Shankar helps to solve mysteries of the Dark Universe

Published: 19 July 2023

Professor Francesco Shankar from the School of Physics and Astronomy is part of an international consortium working on the Euclid satellite, which was launched into space earlier this month. The satellite is on a six-year mission to shed light on dark energy and dark matter, which scientists say account for 95% of the known universe.

Southampton is a founding member of Space South Central, the UK's largest regional space cluster. The cluster champions the space industry across the region to fuel innovation through new business and academic collaborations.

Professor Francesco Shankar, an expert in the evolution of galaxies and supermassive black holes, is part of the international consortium working on Euclid with NASA and the European Space Agency.

Commenting on the launch of the Euclid satellite earlier this month, Professor Shankar said that it will create a giant map of the structure of the universe by observing billions of galaxies. This data will be used to test dark energy, dark matter, and alternative gravity theories.

"The Euclid space telescope will chart the distribution of galaxies across cosmic space and time to reveal the rate of expansion and formation of the universe" said Professor Shankar. "These are invaluable observational constraints which can shed light on the nature of dark energy."

The Euclid satellite is fitted with telescopic space cameras that will photograph more than one-third of the extragalactic sky outside the Milky Way. It will also perform near-infrared spectroscopy of hundreds of millions of galaxies and stars.

The mission is funded by the European Space Agency and is expected to last until at least 2029. The quality of the images will be four times sharper than those taken from the ground.

Professor Shankar is excited about the potential of the Euclid satellite to solve some of the biggest mysteries in astronomy. "Dark energy and dark matter are elusive components and we don't know much about either" he said. "By imaging billion of galaxies, Euclid will give us data on the structure of the universe up to very large scales and at different cosmic epochs, providing invaluable observational constraints on the nature of dark matter and dark energy."

The Euclid satellite is a major step forward in our understanding of the universe. With the help of Professor Shankar and his team, we may finally be able to solve some of the most fundamental mysteries of our cosmos.

Read the press release

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