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Brief Published: 21 Sep 2012

Dark Energy Camera to Capture Expansion of Universe


Astronomers believe they are a step closer to solving the mystery of the universe’s dark forces – the unexplained dark energy believed to be responsible for the expansion of the universe.

The Dark Energy Camera, or DECam, by The Dark Energy Survey – a US research group set up to probe the origin of the accelerating universe and uncover the nature of dark energy – is the most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created, with a huge 570 million pixels. The camera, which captured its first image of the southern sky on 12 September 2012, will create detailed colour images to map and measure more than 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 400 supernovae over five years.

The DECam is mounted on the 4-metre Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in the Chilean Andes, which is considered the best mapping location due to the region’s cloudless skies.

James Siegrist, associate director of science for high-energy physics at the US Department of Energy, says: “The achievement of first light through the Dark Energy Camera begins a significant new era in our exploration of the cosmic frontier. The results of this survey will bring us closer to understanding the mystery of dark energy, and what it means for the universe.”

For more on space exploration, see Commercial Space and Space Tourism.

Dark Energy Survey