[QODLink]
Americas
Powerful cosmic camera snaps at the stars
After eight years of planning, scientists hope Dark Energy Camera will provide insights into how the universe expands.
Last Modified: 19 Sep 2012 14:30

The Dark Energy Camera, the world's most powerful digital camera, has produced its first images.
 
It took eight years for scientists and astronomers to design and build the device, which has been placed on a Chilean mountain top, where ultra-clear skies give it an unobstructed view.

Riding on the back of the conventional Blanco telescope's 4 metre wide mirror, the Dark Energy Camera can see light from over 100 thousand galaxies, up to 8 billion light-years away.

"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, from the US department of energy, one of the teams working on the camera.

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

It is hoped the new camera will provide an insight into the mystery of so-called dark energy, the force astronomers believe causes the universe's expansion to keep accelerating.

It will also be the first time scientists can study galaxy clusters, supernovae, and the large-scale clumping of galaxies using just one device.

The 570-megapixel camera is made out of 62 linked scanners, giving it unprecedented sensitivity, especially to red light and infrared light. 

The movement of distant objects means they appear towards the red end of the spectrum – a so-called "redshift".

Its first image was of a spiral galaxy in the Fornax cluster, about 60 million light years from Earth. Another composite image shows of the center of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae, which lies about 17,000 light years from Earth.

304

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
'Justice for All' demonstrations swell across the US over the deaths of African Americans in police encounters.
Six former Guantanamo detainees are now free in Uruguay with some hailing the decision to grant them asylum.
Disproportionately high number of Aboriginal people in prison highlights inequality and marginalisation, critics say.
Nearly half of Canadians have suffered inappropriate advances on the job - and the political arena is no exception.
Featured
Women's rights activists are demanding change after Hanna Lalango, 16, was gang-raped on a bus and left for dead.
Buried in Sweden's northern forest, Sorsele has welcomed many unaccompanied kids who help stabilise a town exodus.
A look at the changing face of North Korea, three years after the death of 'Dear Leader'.
While some fear a Muslim backlash after café killings, solidarity instead appears to be the order of the day.
Victims spared by the deadly disease are reporting blindness and other unexpected post-Ebola health issues.