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  • richardmitnick 10:39 am on October 15, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , DECam,   

    From FNAL: “From the Center for Particle Astrophysics – Big eyes” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Wednesday, Oct. 15, 2014

    ch
    Craig Hogan, head of the Center for Particle Astrophysics, wrote this column.

    To create small things you need particles with lots of energy, and to learn about them you need to capture and study lots of particles. So it is not surprising that the worldwide physics community is in the business of building giant accelerators and detectors..

    We also find out about new physics without using accelerators by studying the biggest system of all — the cosmos. Such experiments also need big detectors, in particular, giant cameras to make deep, wide-field maps of cosmic structure. For example, Fermilab’s Dark Energy Camera (DECam) is now collecting data for the Dark Energy Survey, using light from distant galaxies gathered by the 4-meter Blanco telescope on Cerro Tololo in Chile. Designed for depth, speed, sensitivity and scientific precision, it’s a behemoth compared to the camera in your phone. By the time you add up all the parts — the detectors, the lenses, the cooling systems, the electronics and the structure to hold them precisely in place 50 feet up in the telescope beam — you have a machine that weighs about 10 tons. That may not seem very big compared to the Tevatron or the thousand-ton telescope the camera is mounted on, but it’s a lot for a digital camera — the biggest ever built.

    CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope
    CTIO Victor M Blanco 4m Telescope interior
    CTIO Victor M Blanco 4 meter telescope

    DECam
    DECam

    FNALTevatron
    Tevatron

    The giant telescope simulator used to test DECam has recently been removed from the Fermilab building where the camera was put together. In the same space, another giant camera will soon start to take shape. This one will study the cosmic microwave background — the primordial light from the big bang. That light has been cooled by the cosmic expansion to microwave wavelengths, so the camera detectors and even its lenses must be cold to match. About 15,000 advanced superconducting detectors from Argonne National Laboratory will be integrated into a camera system about as big as DECam and then shipped for an experiment to take place under the thin, cold, crystalline skies at the South Pole.

    Cosmic Background Radiation Planck
    CMB from ESA/Planck

    ESA Planck
    ESA Planck schematic
    ESA/Planck

    This machine — the SPT-3G camera — will also be the largest of its kind ever built. When it is finished, it will be installed on the South Pole Telescope, where it will map the faint ripples of polarization imprinted on the light since it was created almost 14 billion years ago.

    South Pole Telescope
    South Pole Telescope

    The SPT-3G experiment will advance cosmic mapping by an order of magnitude, but it is also a stepping stone along a path to an even larger Stage 4 CMB project in the following decade. That project, endorsed by the P5 report and supported by a nationwide collaboration of labs and university groups now forming, will carry out a comprehensive survey of the primordial radiation over much of the sky and teach us about new physics ranging from neutrino masses to dark energy.

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.

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  • richardmitnick 9:23 am on July 10, 2014 Permalink | Reply
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    From Fermilab- “The sky is not the limit: DES gets time on Gemini telescope” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Thursday, July 10, 2014
    Hanae Armitage

    In an ambitious five-year mission, the Dark Energy Survey team has devoted itself to mapping the southern sky in unprecedented detail, ultimately hoping to decipher what may stand as the most bewildering phenomenon of our expanding universe.

    In March, DES applied to the Large and Long Program at the Gemini Observatory, a program meant to foster scientific exploration through global collaboration. Although the Gemini Observatory has existed since 2000, the Large and Long Program launched just last year as another means to probe the shrapnel of the big bang. It offers time on two of the world’s finest telescopes, one located atop an 8,900-foot mountain in the Chilean Andes (Gemini South) and the other on Mauna Kea, Hawaii (Gemini North).

    Gemini North telescope
    Gemini North

    Gemini South telescope
    Gemini South

    Just last month, co-leader of the Strong Lensing Science Working Group at DES, Liz Buckley-Geer, received the email she’d been waiting for: Spread over the next three years, DES had been awarded a lofty total of 276 hours on Gemini South.

    “Because we were asking for such a big block of time I really didn’t think we had much of a chance,” Buckley-Geer said. “I was pretty gobsmacked when I got the email two weeks ago.”

    With a hefty 8.1-meter mirror, the Gemini telescope is twice as large as the telescope on which DECam is currently mounted. But DES scientists don’t plan to take new images with Gemini South. DECam images are plenty clear and show high-quality snapshots of galaxies and galaxy clusters. Instead of imaging, DES scientists will use an instrument called a spectrograph to further inspect the images and, in some cases, confirm a rare phenomenon called strong lensing.

    DECam
    DECam

    One of five methods DES uses to explore dark energy, strong lensing is the bending of light from a distant galaxy, or source, due to the gravitational influence of a massive foreground object, or lens. Lensing changes the observed shape of the distant galaxy and intensifies brightness. To find these strong lensing systems in the DECam images, DES scientists look for objects that look distorted, often appearing as long bright arcs, multiple blue knots or, in the rarest cases, an Einstein ring. DES will focus on certain classes of strong lenses that can be used to study dark energy.

    “The strong lenses provide a kind of peephole to the more distant, fainter universe that wouldn’t be available if the lenses weren’t there,” said DES Operations Scientist Tom Diehl.

    But what appear to be strong lenses are not always so. To separate the lenses from the impostors, scientists measure the redshifts of both the lens and the source. A true strong lens is one in which the source redshift is larger than the lens redshift.

    A redshift occurs when light wavelengths increase, or shift toward the red side of the electromagnetic spectrum. The measured redshift of a galaxy is related to the expansion of the universe as a function of time, and it allows DES scientists to calculate the distance to the object.

    To determine the redshift of a galaxy, the scientists will compare the spectrum of the obtained light with known features in the spectrum of various chemical compounds found on Earth. If the same features are seen in an observed spectrum from a distant source but occur at shifted wavelengths, then the redshift can be calculated.

    “The observations with Gemini will give us the redshifts of all these objects, and armed with that information we can move on to the next step,” Buckley-Geer said. “It’s not all the information we need, but it’s one piece of the jigsaw puzzle closer to understanding these system in relation to dark energy.”

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.


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  • richardmitnick 1:30 pm on May 30, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , DECam,   

    From Fermilab- “Frontier Science Result: DES The Dark Energy Survey looks at massive galaxy clusters – and finds filaments” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Friday, May 30, 2014
    Peter Melchior, Ohio State University

    Galaxy clusters — accumulations of hundreds of galaxies — are said to be the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. While this statement is correct as such, it easily conveys an incorrect picture: that of clusters as static, isolated spheres that have swallowed every galaxy within reach at some time in the cosmic past. Nothing could be further from reality.

    Galaxy clusters are not isolated but dynamic environments that actively accrete material from their surroundings. The preferred mode of accretion proceeds along so-called filaments, the connecting links between the central hubs of the cosmic web. The existence of filaments is a prediction of the cold dark matter model we use to describe the formation of structures in the universe, revealed in large cosmological simulations and spectroscopic surveys.

    The new Dark Energy Camera was built by the 300-member Dark Energy Survey (DES) collaboration to carry out a five-year survey to probe the origin of cosmic acceleration. The camera is mounted on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile and saw first light in September 2012.

    Dark Energy Camera
    DECam

    NOAO 4m Blanco telescope
    NOAO 4m Blanco Telescope at Cerro Tololo

    Shortly after the camera was commissioned, we proposed a program to target several massive galaxy clusters as part of a process called science verification, a rigorous test of the new instrument. The prospects for this project were mixed. After the overhaul of the telescope control system and with the new camera, nobody could guarantee that the images we were going to obtain would have the necessary quality for accurate studies of these clusters. But if it worked, we could exploit DECam’s massive field of view of more than 3 square degrees (roughly 15 times the area of the full moon) to study not only the clusters themselves, but also the environments from which they accrete.

    It worked. Over the course of 18 months, I led a team that ultimately involved more than 90 DES scientists from 37 institutions worldwide. In our recently submitted paper, the first based upon DES data, we demonstrated that the new camera and revamped telescope worked together as expected. This data and our careful analysis allowed us to determine the distributions of so-called red-sequence galaxies, whose red color is a reliable tracer of the dynamical processes in clusters. Furthermore, we exploited an effect called gravitational lensing to infer the mass distributions of these clusters, an analysis with exceptionally stringent requirements on image quality.

    Everything lines up. The visible orientation of the brightest cluster galaxies sitting at the cluster centers; the mass distribution tracing hundreds of cluster galaxies (shown in the image below); the large-scale distribution of red-sequence galaxies far beyond the gravitational reach of the actual clusters: All these probes show that clusters are indeed interwoven with the cosmic web, the structure of which DES will reveal in unprecedented detail.

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.


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  • richardmitnick 1:10 pm on May 5, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , DECam, DESI,   

    From Symmetry: “Scientists to map universe in 3-D HD” 

    Symmetry

    May 05, 2014
    Fermilab Leah Hesla
    This article was writen by Leah Hesla

    The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument will create the clearest three-dimensional map yet of one-third of the sky.

    DESI Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument
    DESI

    Maps do more than tell us where we are. Rich with information elegantly arranged, they give us a way to assimilate our vast world. The clearer the map, the more confidently we set out to explore, looking for something it doesn’t show.

    In a few years, scientists will come out with a new map of a third of the sky, one that will go deeper and bring that depth into sharper focus than any survey has yet achieved. It will pinpoint in three dimensions the locations of 25 million galaxies and quasars, pulling back the curtains on the history of the universe’s expansion over more than half of the age of the universe.

    Armed with this detailed picture, scientists will be better equipped to search for something the map can’t show but whose effects will likely be all over it—dark energy. The researchers’ cartographic tool will be the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, or DESI.

    “We have very precise measurements of positions and shapes of galaxies and galaxy clusters in the lateral dimensions, but the resolution in the distance away from us is much worse,” says Fermilab’s Brenna Flaugher, one of the leading scientists on DESI. “With DESI, you get the really fine measurements in depth. Your map of the universe suddenly gets clearer.”

    The DESI project, managed at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, is one of a number of surveys looking to get a handle on how dark energy operates.

    “We’re going to try to understand what dark energy is,” says Berkeley Lab’s Michael Levi, DESI project director. “We don’t know if it’s something having to do with gravity that we don’t understand or some new form of energy that we just haven’t gotten our heads around yet.”

    Whatever it is, it leaves its trace in the growth and structure of the universe.

    DESI will model the universe’s expansion using two approaches. One is to precisely measure the spectra of the light coming from galaxies to determine their distance from us. The redder the light is, the farther away the galaxy.

    The other approach is to measure the distances between galaxies. Galaxies arose from areas left dense with matter when the universe cooled down from the rapid expansion of the Big Bang. These peaks in density are known as baryon acoustic oscillations. Back when the peaks formed, they corresponded to a separation of about 490 million light-years. Since then the expansion of the universe has stretched them apart. Comparing the standard ruler against the distances between galaxies as the universe developed to its current state, scientists will be able to measure how space has stretched since the early times.

    Together, the measurements will tell scientists how and how fast the universe is growing.

    “Being able to make those two measurements at the same time—one about the expansion rate of the universe and the other about how structure is growing—allows you to test the theory of general relativity on this huge length and time scale,” says SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory’s Risa Wechsler, DESI co-spokesperson.

    DESI will be the first survey to make measurements accurate to less than 1 percent of the expansion rate of the universe over the last 11 billion years.

    The Dark Energy Spectrographic Instrument is designed to attach to the Mayall 4-Meter Telescope (2 pictures below) in Arizona. Once construction is completed, it will have 5000 fibers for collecting the spectra of galaxy light.

    NOAO Mayall 4 m telescope exterior
    NOAO/Mayall 4m telescope exterior

    NOAO Mayall 4 m telescope interior
    NOAO/Mayall 4m telescope interior

    Using data from the Dark Energy Camera in Chile, which is currently focused on taking imaging data for the Dark Energy Survey, DESI will point each of those 5000 fibers at a galaxy. Once the fibers get what they need, they will move on to the next set of 5000 celestial objects.
    Dark Energy Camera
    DECam

    “It’s like a big pincushion that wiggles at every image,” Flaugher says. “Every 20 minutes you take an image, and then you reposition each of these little fibers onto new targets.” It will keep doing that until it hits 25 million galaxies.

    DESI grew out of two separate proposals to develop a spectroscopic instrument to explore dark energy. The DESI collaboration is made of 180 scientists from 45 institutions around the world, including five DOE laboratories.

    Scientists expect to finish DESI’s construction in 2018. The experiment will then run for five years.

    “The other cosmic surveys that are going on now and over the next 10 years—the Dark Energy Survey, LSST—are spectacular, and they’ll take images of a lot more galaxies than DESI will measure, but they’re making a 2- or 2.5-dimensional measurement of the universe.” Wechsler says.

    “DESI is really making a 3-D map. You get a lot of additional power because you can say what the universe looks like in three dimensions over this long history.”

    See the full article here.

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.



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  • richardmitnick 1:14 pm on February 25, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , DECam, ,   

    From Fermilab: “To catch a falling asteroid: Dark Energy Camera scientists locate object passing Earth” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014
    Leah Hesla

    For seven minutes earlier this month, two Fermilab physicists moonlighted as astronomers who, like the Men in Black, were positioned to protect the Earth from the scum of the universe.

    On Feb. 3, Alex Drlica-Wagner and Steve Kent were in Chile taking data for the Dark Energy Survey when they received an email stating that a satellite telescope had picked up signs of a potentially hazardous asteroid, one whose orbit might soon meet with Earth’s.

    three
    This Dark Energy Survey observing team was on shift at the Dark Energy Camera in Chile when they got the call to check out a potentially hazardous asteroid. From left: Steve Kent (Fermilab and University of Chicago), Alex Drlica-Wagner (Fermilab) and Hernan Tirado, telescope operator at the Cerro-Tololo Inter-American Observatory, where DECam is housed. Photo: Sara Barber, University of Oklahoma

    The message had come from a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Bad weather in the northern hemisphere had foiled attempts by JPL’s two go-to cameras to photograph the asteroid, hindering the lab’s ability to predict its orbit. Could the Dark Energy Camera take a bit of time off from its usual task of imaging distant galaxies to take pictures of this near-Earth object?

    DECam
    DECam

    “We know about thousands of these asteroids,” said Kent, SCD. “Of course, one we didn’t know about hit Russia last year, so there’s a lot of interest.”

    Since the asteroid was new on the orbital block, astronomers had only a rough idea of where it was headed. They did know it would soon pass in line with the sun and thus be difficult to spot in photographs.

    “If we didn’t follow up on it within two days, they weren’t going to be able to follow it up anytime soon,” said Drlica-Wagner of Fermilab’s Center for Particle Astrophysics. “Because of the weather and the uncertainty of the predictions, DECam was the only thing that could pull it off.”

    Given Chile’s clear skies and DECam’s large field of view, Drlica-Wagner and Kent were fairly confident they could catch the asteroid on camera in five takes, even if its predicted location was only an estimate. They punched in the coordinates JPL gave them and took their shots. Seven minutes later, they had photos.

    The asteroid turned up in all five, though it wasn’t immediately apparent. The images had to be processed by the National Optical Astronomy Observatory in Tucson, Ariz., and coordinates submitted to the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge, Mass., to figure out the orbit. The results were then sent to JPL.

    The asteroid looked just like the faint stars that it shared the photos with, except for one characteristic — it appeared in different positions in the five images, just the way a cartoon dot would move in a flipbook.

    After combining the pictures with the satellite data, the asteroid-tracking crew brought good news.

    “People shouldn’t be particularly worried,” Drlica-Wagner said. At its closest approach to Earth on March 1, newly discovered Apollo-class asteroid 2014 BE63 will be 18 million miles away.

    The Dark Energy Camera scientists were glad to come to the aid of fellow astronomers.

    “In astronomy there are always things that are time-critical in nature. People will say, ‘You’re at the telescope. Can you do something for me?'” Kent said. “It’s a bit of a tradition to help when you can.”

    He added jokingly, “In this case, saving the Earth was an extra factor, so we thought it was generous.”

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.


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  • richardmitnick 1:31 pm on January 28, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , DECam,   

    From Fermilab: “Toward a new dark-energy detector” 


    Fermilab is an enduring source of strength for the US contribution to scientific research world wide.

    Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014
    Leah Hesla

    The power of the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera lies in its ability to capture celestial objects millions of light-years away. Scientists are now working toward developing an instrument for characterizing these stars and galaxies in greater detail.

    DECam
    DECam

    Scientist Juan Estrada, PPD, is currently leading a Fermilab team to develop a large instrument using detectors called MKIDs, short for microwave kinetic inductance detectors. In the coming years, they’ll use it to obtain more information about the astronomical objects already detected by the Dark Energy Camera, pointing it into the night sky to capture more information about those objects’ light.

    The team builds on the work of a University of California, Santa Barbara group, led by Ben Mazin, which developed MKIDs for the visible and infrared spectrum.

    “These are small detectors,” Estrada said. “We’d like to convert this technology into something for a large instrument for cosmology.”

    The Dark Energy Camera is outfitted with 74 charge-coupled devices, better known as CCDs, and its optical filters divide the light from far-off galaxies or stars into one of five spectral ranges. When a CCD gets a hit from one of the photons from the split-off light, it sends a small signal saying that the light in that filter’s range of wavelengths has come through. The data from the five filters are then reassembled into a color picture of the galaxy or star, much the way your computer monitor layers red, green and blue pixels to generate full-color images.

    Thus DECam’s filter-and-CCD system gives scientists the rough spectral make-up of an astronomical object.

    ccd
    A prototype of the Dark Energy Survey camera, DECam. The front ring holds the detecting CCDs and is 45cm in diameter. (Credit: Fermilab)

    An MKID, however, would enhance that five-color rendering many times over. When struck by a visible photon, it produces a flood of so-called quasiparticles, allowing the wavelength for every single photon hitting the MKID to be precisely measured. That, in turn, leads to color images of astronomical objects without the use of optical filters. The higher the photon’s energy — or the more towards the violet end of the spectrum it is — the more particles it produces.

    MKIDs, which use superconducting material, must be very cold to be able to detect photons. In testing the current MKID-based prototype instrument, Estrada’s team recently brought it to a temperature of 33 millikelvin — the lowest temperature ever achieved on site at Fermilab.

    Over the next several years, the team hopes to create an MKID prototype instrument that can be installed in a telescope on a mountaintop next to DECam for testing. This means assembling it with a compatible mechanical design and high-bandwidth digital processing system.

    If all goes well, they can look realistically to constructing instruments installed with MKIDs and, conceivably, with 100,000 light channels. That’s 20 times more channels than the next-generation technology represented by the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, a future spectrograph that Fermilab is now helping to construct.

    “We are still some distance away from having a full-on instrument,” Estrada said. “But we are taking the initial steps that would put us closer to this very ambitious goal.”

    See the full article here.

    Fermilab Campus

    Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located just outside Batavia, Illinois, near Chicago, is a US Department of Energy national laboratory specializing in high-energy particle physics.


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  • richardmitnick 11:51 am on July 9, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , DECam,   

    From The Kavli Foundation: “Capturing the Dark Expansion of the Universe” 

    KavliFoundation

    The Kavli Foundation

    Astronomers first exposed dark energy 15 years ago. Now with the help of an enormous camera, they hope to really begin to understand what it is and why the universe is flying apart at increasing speed.

    Summer, 2013
    No Writer Credit

    “PERCHED ATOP A RUGGED PEAK in the north Chilean Andes, one of the world’s largest cameras is taking portraits of deep space. Light traveling for billions of years tickles the camera’s gigantic eye every night, yielding crisp images of ancient clusters of galaxies. But the explorers who built the camera seek imprints of something dark and rather disturbing within the pretty pictures: a pervasive, invisible force pushing the universe apart.

    Decam
    DECam, built at Fermilab, resides at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile

    Dark energy — the name given to the obscure driver of cosmic acceleration — is just as enigmatic today. ‘When you say dark energy, what you really mean is something you don’t know about,’ says cosmologist David Burke of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology (KIPAC) at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University.

    Is dark energy an enduring force that has always been with us, and will be forevermore? Does it fit neatly into Albert Einstein’s theories of relativity, or will its presence force us to rethink all we know about gravity? What is it?

    A global team of astronomers, physicists, engineers and dreamers intends to find out. Through the wide lens of the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), the group will search for subtle changes in the body language of the universe. Within the colors of distant supernovae, the clumpiness of galaxy clusters, and the bending of primordial light lie clues about the origin of our universe and, perhaps, its future.”

    See the full article here.

    The Kavli Foundation, based in Oxnard, California, is dedicated to the goals of advancing science for the benefit of humanity and promoting increased public understanding and support for scientists and their work.

    The Foundation’s mission is implemented through an international program of research institutes, professorships, and symposia in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, neuroscience, and theoretical physics as well as prizes in the fields of astrophysics, nanoscience, and neuroscience.


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  • richardmitnick 3:01 pm on March 27, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, , DECam   

    From Symmetry Magazine: “Astronomers give Dark Energy Camera rave reviews” 

    Even before the Dark Energy Survey begins, the Dark Energy Camera is exceeding expectations in the astrophysics community.

    March 27, 2013
    Andre Salles

    decamii

    “Astronomer Daniel Kelson is part of a team working to answer an intriguing question about our universe: Why are fewer and fewer stars being created over time? He’s been collecting data for years, but one piece of the puzzle eluded him.

    That is, until December of last year, when he spent two nights in Chile observing the sky with the new Dark Energy Camera. Kelson came away from his observing session with the information he needed to complete his research, and with a healthy dose of respect for what he calls the “super camera,” installed at the southern hemisphere station of the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory.

    dfecam
    DECam.

    ‘It was beautiful to use,’ Kelson says. ‘It’s impressive that the various teams could come together and make such a phenomenal camera.’

    He’s not alone in his appreciation.

    The 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera—the world’s most powerful digital imaging device, built at Fermilab and installed on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile—was constructed for the Dark Energy Survey, a five-year effort to map a portion of the southern sky in unprecedented detail. Since the camera was turned on in November, the DES has spent 50 nights completing the science verification phase of the experiment.

    Cerro Tololo
    Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory

    Dark Energy Icon

    When DES members are not operating the camera, it’s available for other astronomers like Kelson to use. Since last December, 19 other groups of scientists from institutions including Harvard, the University of Virginia and the University of California at Berkeley have signed up for nights with the Dark Energy Camera. Some teams searched for asteroids while some examined the properties of galaxies.

    David Silva, Director of the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, has been pleased with the camera’s ability to tackle a wide range of astronomical problems of pressing interest to US astronomers.

    ‘After almost a decade of anticipation, it has been extremely gratifying to see the diversity of astronomical research problems being enthusiastically investigated so early in the lifetime of a major new instrument by astronomers from the US and abroad,’ Silva says.”

    See the full article here.

    Symmetry is a joint Fermilab/SLAC publication.


     
  • richardmitnick 2:47 pm on September 6, 2012 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , DECam,   

    From Symmetry Magazine: “The Dark Energy Camera opens its eyes” 

    Symmetry Magazine is a joint publication of Fermilab and SLAC National Accelerator Lab.

    A long-awaited device that will help unravel one of the universe’s most compelling mysteries gets ready to see first light.

    September 05, 2012
    Joseph Piergrossi

    On a hot June Illinois afternoon, a celebratory atmosphere prevails at Kuhn Barn, a holdover from Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory’s agricultural past and also a popular cookout spot.

    Doctoral student Guillermo Moroni works the grill, proudly serving lamb chops and hamburgers to his scientific collaborators—other postdocs, technicians, scientists and graduate students. The smell of roasted corn floats across picnic tables littered with cakes, pies and brownies.

    The gathering is more than a simple celebration of the start of summer; it marks a tipping point. The Dark Energy Camera, the first device specifically designed to search for dark energy, is on the brink of completion. Project manager Brenna Flaugher—who organized the cookout—and her colleagues are about to see the project they’ve been preparing for the past eight years transition from dream to reality.

    camera
    DECam

    housing
    The Blanco telescope in Chile is now home to DECam. Credit: T. Abbott and NOAO/AURA/NSF.

    The mystery of dark energy

    Physicists have known about cosmic expansion since the 1920s, when Edwin Hubble found that the light spectrum of distant objects was shifted to higher wavelengths in a phenomenon called redshift. But dark energy has been on their minds only since 1998, when two independent studies of type 1a supernovae revealed the bright, exploding stars to be fainter than expected, hinting that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. Scientists previously thought that, under Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity, the expansion of the universe would slow as time went on due to the pull of gravity. The 1998 finding suggested otherwise.”

    This is a monster article. We are indebted to Symmetry Magazine.

    See the full article here.

    This post is dedicated to L.H.


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