U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois, has developed a dark energy camera that has 570 megapixels and is able to “image 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernovae as far as 8 billion light years away during the five-year Dark Energy Survey.” It is mounted on Blanco 4-meter telescope at the National Science Foundation’s Cerro Tolollo InterAmerican Observatory (CTIO) in Chile.
This camera is the part of the multinational project to study four probes of dark energy that is a strange powerful force responsible for the expansion of the universe.
“The Dark Energy Camera will solve the mystery of dark energy in a systematic manner,” said Andrea Kunder of CTIO in a podcast on 365 Days of Astronomy. “The idea is to observe four different probes of dark energy. You can’t see dark energy so there are four different probes of dark energy that DECam will be observing. First, DECam will observe type Ia supernova and baryon acoustic oscillations and this will be to constrain the expansion of the universe. And then galaxy clusters and weak lensing will also be observed to measure both the expansion of the universe and the growth of large scale structures. Then we can compare the results from these first two probes and the last two probes and this can reveal our understanding of gravity and intercomparisons of the results will provide cross checks and bolster confidence in the findings.”
Researchers in this project will also study the galaxy clusters, the large-scale clumping of galaxies, supernovae, and weak gravitational lensing, which refers to the distribution of matter between a distant source and an observer that is capable of bending the light from the source while traveling towards the observer.
“The achievement of first light through the Dark Energy Camera begins a significant new era in our exploration of the cosmic frontier,” said James Siegrist, associate director of science for high energy physics with the U.S. Department of Energy. “The results of this survey will bring us closer to understanding the mystery of dark energy, and what it means for the universe.”
More than 120 scientists from 23 institutions in the United States, Spain, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Germany are taking part in the Dark Energy Survey. You can check www.darkenergysurvey.org to know more about the Dark Energy Survey and the list of the participating institutions.
If you want to know more about this camera and the project, you can join the live webcast today from the Kavli Foundation. You can also ask questions via Twitter using the #KavliAstro hashtag, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org to Fermilab scientists Brenna Flaugher, project manager for the Dark Energy Camera, and Joshua Frieman, director of the Dark Energy Survey.