From NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory) (US): “DESI Begins Creating 3D Map of the Universe”

From NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory) (US)

17 May 2021

Contacts

Arjun Dey
NSF’s NOIRLab
Tel: +1 520-318-8429
Email: arjun.dey@noirlab.edu

Parker Fagrelius
NSF’s NOIRLab
Email: parker.fagrelius@noirlab.edu

Amanda Kocz
NSF’s NOIRLab
Tel: +1 626-524-5884
Email: amanda.kocz@noirlab.edu

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) completes trial run and begins survey to map the Universe and unravel mysterious dark energy.

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A quest to map the Universe and unravel the mysteries of dark energy began officially today, 17 May 2021, at Kitt Peak National Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab.

Over the next five years, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) will capture the light from tens of millions of galaxies and other cosmic objects. During its four-month trial run, which just concluded, the project already collected millions of observations.

By gathering light from some 30 million galaxies, project scientists say that DESI will help them construct a 3D map of the Universe in unprecedented detail. DESI will do this by collecting spectra, which spread out the light from celestial objects into the colors of the rainbow, revealing information such as the chemical composition of the objects being observed and their relative distances and velocities. This data will help astronomers better understand the repulsive force associated with dark energy, which drives the acceleration of the Universe’s expansion across vast cosmic distances.

DESI is an international science collaboration managed by the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (US) with primary funding from the Department’s Office of Science. DESI resides at the retrofitted Nicholas U. Mayall 4-meter Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory, a Program of NSF’s NOIRLab.

Jim Siegrist, Associate Director for High Energy Physics at DOE, said, “We are excited to see the start of DESI, the first next-generation dark energy project to begin its science survey. We also congratulate Berkeley Lab, which continues to enhance our capabilities for studying the nature of dark energy, since leading the initial discovery in 1999. DOE’s Berkeley Lab successfully led the 13-nation DESI team, including US government, private, and international contributions, in the design, fabrication, and commissioning of the world’s premier multi-object spectrograph. The strong interagency collaboration with NSF has enabled DOE to install and operate DESI on their Mayall telescope, which is required to carry out this amazing experiment. Along with its primary mission of dark energy studies, the data set will be of use by the wider scientific community for a multitude of astrophysics studies.”

“The combination of the Mayall telescope and DESI instrument is now the best astronomical survey machine on the planet,” said Arjun Dey, the DESI project scientist for NOIRLab and the DESI Observing Operations lead. “Its initial five-year mission, hopefully the first of many, will produce the most detailed cartographic map of our accelerating, expanding Universe ever created. I can’t wait to see what it will discover!”

“The DESI experiment is an excellent example of the amazing science that can be achieved when government agencies collaborate to make the most of national observatory facilities like the Mayall telescope,” says Chris Davis, NSF Program Director for NOIRLab.

What sets DESI apart from previous sky surveys? “We will measure ten times more galaxy spectra than ever obtained,” said the project director, Berkeley Lab’s Michael Levi. “These spectra get us a third dimension.” Instead of two-dimensional images of galaxies, quasars, and other distant objects, he explained, the instrument collects light, or spectra, from the cosmos such that it “becomes a time machine where we place those objects on a timeline that reaches as far back as 11 billion years ago.”

“DESI is the most ambitious of a new generation of instruments aimed at better understanding the cosmos, in particular its dark energy component,” said project co-spokesperson Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille, a cosmologist at France’s Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA). She said the scientific program — including her own interest in quasars — will allow researchers to address with precision two primary questions: what is dark energy, and to what degree does gravity follow the laws of general relativity, which form the basis of our understanding of the cosmos.

See the full article here.

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What is NOIRLab?

NSF’s NOIRLab (National Optical-Infrared Astronomy Research Laboratory) (US), the US center for ground-based optical-infrared astronomy, operates the international Gemini Observatory (US) (a facility of National Science Foundation (US), NRC–Canada, ANID–Chile, MCTIC–Brazil, MINCyT–Argentina, and Korea Astronomy and Space Science Institute [한국천문연구원] (KR)), NOAO Kitt Peak National Observatory(US) (KPNO), Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory(CL) (CTIO), the Community Science and Data Center (CSDC), and Vera C. Rubin Observatory (in cooperation with DOE’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory (US)). It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) (US) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O’odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.

National Science Foundation(US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Kitt Peak National Observatory (US) on Kitt Peak of the Quinlan Mountains in the Arizona-Sonoran Desert on the Tohono O’odham Nation, 88 kilometers (55 mi) west-southwest of Tucson, Arizona, Altitude 2,096 m (6,877 ft). annotated.

NOIRLab(US)NOAO Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory(CL) approximately 80 km to the East of La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 2200 meters.

The NOAO-Community Science and Data Center(US)

The NSF NOIRLab Vera C. Rubin Observatory. It is managed by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy(US) under a cooperative agreement with NSF and is headquartered in Tucson, Arizona. The astronomical community is honored to have the opportunity to conduct astronomical research on Iolkam Du’ag (Kitt Peak) in Arizona, on Maunakea in Hawaiʻi, and on Cerro Tololo and Cerro Pachón in Chile. We recognize and acknowledge the very significant cultural role and reverence that these sites have to the Tohono O’odham Nation, to the Native Hawaiian community, and to the local communities in Chile, respectively.

NSF (US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Vera C. Rubin Observatory [LSST] Telescope currently under construction on the El Peñón peak at Cerro Pachón Chile, a 2,682-meter-high mountain in Coquimbo Region, in northern Chile, alongside the existing NSF (US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Gemini South Telescope and NSF (US) NOIRLab (US) NOAO (US) Southern Astrophysical Research Telescope.