Dark Energy Camera Peers Into Cosmic Mystery

By Sophie Bushwick | September 18, 2012 3:33 pm

47 Tucanae
A composite image of the star cluster 47 Tucanae,
taken by the Dark Energy Camera

We know that the universe is expanding, and that it’s doing so faster and faster. But we don’t know why the rate of expansion is increasing. Astronomers have dubbed the unknown cause “dark energy,” which is a pretty cool name for something we know absolutely nothing about. To shine some light on the mystery, scientists devised a the most powerful digital camera in the world: the Dark Energy Camera, capable of seeing 8 billion light years into space. And after eight years of development, last week the camera captured its first images.

The Dark Energy Camera uses an array of 62 charge-coupled devices—electronic instruments used to capture digital pictures—to form images of the objects in its line of sight, which include 300 million galaxies. Scientists plan to survey these galaxies over the next five years, gathering lots of data that will help us better understand just what dark energy is. But first, they must test this powerful instrument—by taking lots of pretty pictures, such as the above image of star cluster 47 Tucanae, 16,700 light years from Earth.

Image courtesy of the Dark Energy Survey Collaboration

  • Messier Tidy Upper

    But first, they must test this powerful instrument—by taking lots of pretty pictures, such as the above image of star cluster 47 Tucanae, 16,700 light years from Earth.

    Would that be “Image” or “images” there?

    Looks like it worked.

    Either way, great news and wrtte-up here, cheers! :-)

  • http://www.ggbnet.com JerkofAllTrades in Texas…?

    Just finished the latest from Lawrence Krauss, and thought he has a neat idea. Dark energy is the seething froth of virtual particles being created at the quantum level. They appear in our universe and that is what is causing the run away expansion, space is continually growing from this phenomenon.

    I am not any sort of scientist, but this kinda sounds logical to me.

  • reidh

    It occurred to me that possibly in the future physicists could somehow “use” dark matter to generate original dark energy whereby one could have unlimited fuel supplies as one traveled through the universe attempting to catch up with the accelerating parts in order to search for the most humane making inquiry (according to John “Jack” Horner ) is there any “Intelligent” life in the Universe? Besides Montana.


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