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Dark energy camera snaps first images ahead of survey


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#1 key2thecup

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:03 PM

Dark energy camera snaps first images ahead of survey

The highest-resolution camera ever built has begun its quest to pin down the mysterious stuff that makes up nearly three-quarters of our Universe.

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The camera comprises 62 separate CCDs, the same kind of detector familiar from consumer cameras

The Dark Energy Survey's 570-million-pixel camera will scan some 300 million galaxies in the coming five years.

The goal is to discover the nature of dark energy, which is theorized to be responsible for the ever-faster expansion of the Universe.

Its first image, taken 12 September, focussed on the Fornax galaxy cluster.
In time, along with its massive haul of individual galaxies, it will study 100,000 galaxy clusters - the largest stable structures we know of - and 4,000 supernovae, the bright dying throes of stars.
This enormous survey is a collaboration between US, UK, Brazilian, Spanish and German astronomers.

The phone box-sized Dark Energy Camera or DECam is mounted on the 4m Victor M Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile's Atacama desert.
DECam is particularly sensitive to red and infrared light, to better study cosmic objects as distant as eight billion light-years away.

More distant objects are moving away from us - and each other - faster than nearer objects, which causes a shift of their apparent colour toward the red end of the spectrum - a "redshift".


What is redshift?

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  • The term "redshift" arises from the fact that light from more distant objects shows up on Earth more red than when it left its source
  • The colour shift comes about because of the Doppler effect, which acts to "stretch" or "compress" waves from moving objects
  • It is at work in the sound of a moving siren: an approaching siren sounds higher-pitched and a receding one sounds lower-pitched
  • In the case of light, approaching objects appear more blue and receding objects appear more red
  • The expansion of the Universe is accelerating, so in general, more distant objects are moving away from us (and each other, and everything else) more quickly than nearer ones
  • At cosmic distances, the shift can profoundly affect the colour - the factor by which the wavelength is "stretched" is called the redshift


Careful studies of the shifted light from distant supernovae were what first demonstrated this expansion, leading to the 2011 Nobel prize in physics.

What is believed to be causing this increase in the speed of expansion is called dark energy, making up more than 70% of the "stuff" of the Universe and the focus of the DECam's mission.
Other efforts hope to get to the bottom of the mystery, including the Boss survey and a future space telescope dedicated to the effort called Euclid.

But for now, Will Percival from the University of Portsmouth, a Dark Energy Survey collaborator, said DECam is an exciting prospect.

"This will be the largest galaxy survey of its kind, and the galaxy shapes and positions will tell us a great deal about the nature of the physical process that we call dark energy, but do not currently understand," he said.

The survey will tackle the problem in four ways.

It will study the same kind of supernovae that led to the Nobel prize, in a bid to unravel the "expansion history" of the Universe - when its expansion increased and decreased over billions of years.

It will also map out in 3D the distribution of galaxy clusters, measuring what are known as baryon acoustic oscillations - literally relics of the sound echoes of the Big Bang.

Dark energy and dark matter mysteries

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  • Gravity acting across vast distances does not seem to explain what astronomers see
  • Galaxies, for example, should fly apart; some other mass must be there holding them together
  • Astrophysicists have thus postulated "dark matter" - invisible to us but clearly acting on galactic scales
  • At the greatest distances, the Universe's expansion is accelerating
  • Thus we have also "dark energy" which acts to drive the expansion, in opposition to gravity
  • The current theory holds that 73% of the Universe is dark energy, 23% is dark matter, and just 4% the kind of matter we know well


By counting the clusters and plotting out when they evidently formed, the survey can feed back to computer models that map out how we think the Universe organised itself in its earliest years.

And studies of the way galaxies and galaxy clusters bend passing light - in a process called weak gravitational lensing - will help to pin down the equally mysterious "dark matter" that is believed to make up more than 80% of the Universe's mass.

DECam will now be run through a series of tests and will begin the official survey in December.
With each snapshot it acquires, it will see an apparent area of the sky 20 times larger than the full moon.

In its full five-year run, it should capture an eighth of the full sky.

"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 at the US Department of Energy, which oversaw the instrument's construction.

"The results of this survey will bring us closer to understanding the mystery of dark energy and what it means for the Universe."

http://www.bbc.co.uk...onment-19634700


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#2 Ossi Vaananen

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:08 PM

Fascinating.

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Credit to -Vintage Canuck-


#3 Sharpshooter

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:08 PM

570 million megapixels?! :shock:

Incroyable!

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#4 Tystick

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 10:42 PM

I have a feeling these high resolution cameras will be in our phones 20 years from now haha

Interesting article
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#5 Tortorella's Rant

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:05 PM

570 million? Not that much.
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#6 Armada

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Posted 18 September 2012 - 11:10 PM

570 megapixel...

Can I have that on my phone?
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#7 Neufy161

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:14 AM

Man this kind of stuff fascinates me... I'm huge into Astrophysics, follow this kind of stuff regularly.

Here's an amazing clip of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, answering a basic question asked by a member of TIME magazine, it helps that that song playing in the background is one of my all time favorite songs.


Before watching maybe try and answer the question to yourself first, or comment below.
Question: What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU

...mind explosion


Edited by Neufy161, 19 September 2012 - 01:20 AM.

Oh hello Alain Vigneault, I see what you did there... good one.

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#8 Buddhas Hand

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:28 AM

Man this kind of stuff fascinates me... I'm huge into Astrophysics, follow this kind of stuff regularly.

Here's an amazing clip of Neil DeGrasse Tyson, answering a basic question asked by a member of TIME magazine, it helps that that song playing in the background is one of my all time favorite songs.


Before watching maybe try and answer the question to yourself first, or comment below.
Question: What is the most astounding fact you can share with us about the Universe.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9D05ej8u-gU


mind explosion


Human beings are still in it .



we better hope that there is intelligent life out there in the universe , because there is bugger all down here on earth :lol:

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#9 Jägermeister

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:30 AM

Amazing to think what cameras will be like another 20, 50, and 100 years down the road.
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#10 Neufy161

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 02:01 AM

I'm going to make a black hole thread... those things are incredible, and most people don't really understand our current understanding of them

Oh hello Alain Vigneault, I see what you did there... good one.

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#11 hudson bay rules

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 05:22 AM

Amusing one believes in the big bang theory, why do they figure there was only one and not a multiple of explosions?

Expand, contract, expand., contract etc.

Edited by hudson bay rules, 19 September 2012 - 05:27 AM.

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#12 nucklehead

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 05:28 AM

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#13 Hobble

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 08:48 AM

Can dark energy be harnessed in anyway? Ie. Power our future warp-drives and space ships.

#14 Tystick

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 01:21 PM

570 million? Not that much.


Yea true, most likely not that much haha
It just seems every time some powerful technology is built, it eventually ends up in the peoples hands decades later.
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#15 Offensive Threat

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Posted 19 September 2012 - 03:53 PM

Amusing one believes in the big bang theory, why do they figure there was only one and not a multiple of explosions?

Expand, contract, expand., contract etc.


The current theory is no contraction. Just a forever expand into nothingness. Hawkings book Deep Time has his theory of a very unexciting end to our universe. While very interesting its also a very big downer.

There are multiple theories regarding it being possible for there to be an unlimited number of universes and an unlimited number of parallel dimensions to our universe. Theres also a theory that our big bang can happen over and over again as the energy needed for it to happen will build up again over many billions of years. Apparently this possible energy buildup is explained in general relativity. The only people that can understand it all have IQs of a billion or something though. Im not one of them.

i just find it all interesting since I dont have to think of the math involved.

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#16 Canuckerbird

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:29 AM

How much dark energy does it take to conjure Thor to earth?
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#17 Nevlach

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 07:29 AM

Can dark energy be harnessed in anyway? Ie. Power our future warp-drives and space ships.

Yes. Theoretically we can store it in it's red form and use it to blast those dam* romulans back to hell where they belong!
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#18 SkeeterHansen

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 04:36 PM

That camera is "out of this world!" :bigblush:

/=S=/


#19 Pouria

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:17 PM

570 million megapixels?! :shock:

Incroyable!


Pfff...thats nothing. My Panny has 1 billion megapixels.

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#20 Pouria

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 05:21 PM

Amazing to think what cameras will be like another 20, 50, and 100 years down the road.


Its not about the pixels, its about the lens and aperture. Technically, you can't fit that many pixels into a camera, whether DSLR or compact point and shoot. Unless the camera is the size of the observation deck with a huge lens.

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#21 MikeyBoy44

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Posted 20 September 2012 - 09:07 PM

Amusing one believes in the big bang theory, why do they figure there was only one and not a multiple of explosions?

Expand, contract, expand., contract etc.


Because one is all you need.
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