Scientists Using 570 Megapixel Camera to Take Glamor Shots of Dark Energy

Scientists have been puzzling over cosmic acceleration – the ever-faster expansion of the universe – for decades. Now, they have a new tool that may help them solve the mystery: a 570MP camera that is being used by the Dark Energy Survey (DES) group to snap images of galaxies that are millions and even billions of light years from Earth.

Dark Energy Camera

This is replica hardware at Fermilab that was designed to help scientists mount the camera to the Blanco telescope. Image credit: Fermilab.

Although the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) was built at Fermilab, it’s not there anymore. The team determined that the best place for the camera to get shots of far-off galaxies is Chile. The camera is mounted on the Victor M. Blanco telescope, which has a 13-foot-wide light-gathering mirror.

Galaxy Shot Taken By Dark Energy Camera

This is an image, shot with the DECam, of a star cluster 17,000 light years from Earth. Image credit: Dark Energy Survey Collaboration.

The camera itself is designed to be particularly sensitive to red light (thanks to 62-charge-coupled-device array). The camera has been taking pictures since September of this year and Fermilab and the Dark Energy Survey group are sharing the images with the public.