In another breakthrough, the US Department of Energy has made a giant leap forward in the exploration of deep elements of the universe. With the use of a Dark Energy Camera, scientists have expanded their horizons into areas never before seen. The Dark Energy Camera was used to capture images of the “c, in the Formax cluster of galaxies”. Incredibly this galaxy is located 60 million light years from earth.
The effort is the result of a Dark Energy Collaboration and is absolutely mind-boggling. Scientists made the announcement in late September and noted that development of the camera was a collaborative work over the last eight years. Scientists, engineers, physicists and technicians on three continents combined in the successful manufacture of this spectacular camera.
The first images of the 570-megapixel camera were taken on September 12, 2012. James Siegert, an Associate Director of Science for High Energy Physics with the US Department of Energy (DOE) made the following statement, “The achievement of first light through the Dark Energy Camera begins a significant new era in our exploration of the cosmic frontier”. It is believed that the results of the survey will bring us new insights in to the role that dark energy plays in our universe.
The camera, approximately the size of a telephone booth, was constructed at the DOE’s facility in Batavia, Illinois. The camera was then mounted at the southern branch of the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO) in Chile.
The telescope will be used to attempt to discover why the universe is expanding. Remarkably, the camera, which features 62 devices and unprecedented capabilities to see red light will be used to explore asteroids, and heretofore never explored origins and possible fate of our universe. With the camera, exploration is set to begin in more than 100,000 galaxies as far as 8 billion light years away.
The images will be shared by the international community. Plans are to use data furnished by the collaborators to probe the capabilities of dark energy, studying the galaxy clusters, supernovae and weak gravitational lensing. To date, this will launch the first collaborative effort to study all four methods in one study.
Over a five-year period, the study will detail colour images of 1/8th of the sky or 5,000 square degrees, 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernovae.
The Dark Energy Survey is funded by the US Department of Energy, the National Science Foundation and funding agencies in the UK, Spain, Brazil, Germany and Switzerland and participating DES institutions. This project typifies what can be achieved through Open Innovation and collaboration.
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