Dark Energy Camera Starts Snapping; Just 300 Million Galaxies to Go

Dark Energy Camera Starts Snapping; Just 300 Million Galaxies to Go

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The Dark Energy Camera, a $40-million piece of equipment that represents a pinnacle of astronomical research, is now peering into the reddest reaches of the universe from its new home in Chile, and has seen “first light,” said Joshua Frieman, director of the survey. “That’s a major milestone,” Frieman told the Los Angeles Times in an interview, “because it lets us see that the whole thing is working” and soon will be cataloging a vast range of the night sky from its vantage point in Chile.

The point of the research is to look up and out of the Milky Way, said Frieman, also a scientist at Fermilab and an astronomy and astrophysics professor at the University of Chicago. Over five years, the survey will create detailed color images of one-eighth of the sky, picking out and measuring 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernovae, as Arizona’s National Optical Astronomy Observatory put it. NOAA calls this camera “the most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created.”

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