Astronomers Activate World's First Dark Energy Space Camera

Astronomers Activate World's First Dark Energy Space Camera

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The most powerful camera ever made has begun seeking answers to one of science's biggest questions.

The universe is expanding. Did I just blow your mind?

Hopefully not. We've had a pretty good idea that space is growing for a decent while now, but only just recently wrapped our collective noggins around the fact that the inflation is actually accelerating. So who's got their fat cosmic foot on the gas pedal of space? Supposedly, it's this guy, Mr. Dark Energy, whose mugshot you can see to the right. These stitched-together photos were all captured by the very creatively named Dark Energy Camera (or DECam for short), a 570-million-pixel, 62-CCD, galaxy-scanning picture box capable of snapping photos that are, holy crap, twenty-times larger than the moon.

Now, you may be squinting at the compiled space shots, thinking, "Hey! This ain't no dark energy! This here's just space!" And you, my good (wo)man, would be both wrong and right. A whopping 73% of space is dark energy (probably), busy hustling anti-social celestial objects away from us at varying speeds of quickness. DECam, all the while, is there to document that magic by snapping photos of 100,000 different galaxy clusters and 4,000 separate supernovae.

So, how do a bunch of strung together space pics teach us anything about dark energy? Like a good murder mystery, the answer lies in a preponderance of the color red. Red is sort of a special color in the scientific community, laying claim to both the lowest frequency and the longest wavelength. This has a few interesting implications. Objects in space move faster the farther away they are from us, which causes a distinct change in how we see them. More specifically, the father away something gets from us, the more we perceive the light bouncing off of it as red. Sort of weird, right? This phenomenon is called "redshift," the visual result of wavelengths appearing to stretch during motion.

With this special photographic mapping, the dudes responsible for DECam may be able to extrapolate the expansion history of space going back billions of years! This, in turn, will help them and other scientists chart the earliest organizational patterns of our universe, and perhaps even finally track down those rascally baryon acoustic oscillations, or "sound echoes" of the Big Bang.

Exactly why the universe's expansion is speeding up rather than slowing down is sort of a big deal, as Einstein's theory of relativity kind of implies the opposite. This is admittedly a simplistic explanation, but if you think of space like a taut sheet, and objects of mass (like this Earth thing we stand on) as a bowling ball at it's center, everything around the ball should slowly follow the slope inward. So how entire galaxies suddenly seem to be scooting father away, incredulously picking up pace all the while, is a bit of a head-scratcher worth looking into.

DECam itself is about the size of a TARDIS (that would be the outside, not the inside - though, I've never been in there, so who knows) and currently resides on top of the Victor M Blanco telescope in Chile. Over the next five years, the camera is scheduled to photograph 300 million galaxies, approximately an eighth of the known sky. Wow. There's still a butt-load of stuff we don't understand about how this crazy universe place really works, but at least it seems that with the help of DECam, we're getting just a tad bit closer to erasing that pesky "un" from "the unknown."

Source: BBC via Geek.com

Images: Dark Energy Survery

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I love you science, you're so wonderful to us.

Shouldn't there be a Mass Effect picture somewhere in there?

It's not dark, it's just misunderstood.

TheCaptain:
Shouldn't there be a Mass Effect picture somewhere in there?

I'm Commander Shepard and this my favorite camera on the planet.

DVS BSTrD:
It's not dark, it's just misunderstood.

TheCaptain:
Shouldn't there be a Mass Effect picture somewhere in there?

I'm Commander Shepard and this my favorite camero on the planet.

You bet it is, keep this thing running for a couple of years and it can probably find the aborted story arc about Haestrom's sun.

...And given the chance, a good chunk of the population would rather use that camera to take pictures of themselves and edit in some variant on YOLO or SWAG, than actually uncover more about the universe.
Depressing, that thought is.

That aside, this is great news.

King of Asgaard:
...And given the chance, a good chunk of the population would rather use that camera to take pictures of themselves and edit in some variant on YOLO or SWAG, than actually uncover more about the universe.
Depressing, that thought is.

That aside, this is great news.

Don't worry, they shall be left behind as the rest of us traverse the galaxy in our dark energy powered space ships!

somewhere Sheldon Cooper is making a joyous yet creepy smile!

I find this headline to be inaccurate! Dark energy is by definition an energy which we have yet to be able to see or interact with (thus why its called dark) and therefor you cannot take pictures of it, only its effect. Though, dark energy effect camera is less punchy. DEEC is more accurate though!

Twilight_guy:
I find this headline to be inaccurate! Dark energy is by definition an energy which we have yet to be able to see or interact with (thus why its called dark) and therefor you cannot take pictures of it, only its effect. Though, dark energy effect camera is less punchy. DEEC is more accurate though!

So, do you also think the name of the camera itself is inaccurate? After all, it's called the Dark Energy Camera. :)

Also, things tend to get murky when talking about dark energy. Dark energy in this context is more a process than an actual "energy" as most would define the term. Therefore, saying it's a "dark energy camera" is not to imply that you are capturing "a thing" but instead, as the term "dark energy" is defined, a process. Therefore, it is capturing that process (in space), as the headline accurately describes.

Sadly, in a couple of years, we'll discover that "dark" energy is actually emo energy, and the reason we haven't been able to detect it is because we're too blind to see the tragic beauty that is its soul.

You heard it here first, folks!

King of Asgaard:
...And given the chance, a good chunk of the population would rather use that camera to take pictures of themselves and edit in some variant on YOLO or SWAG, than actually uncover more about the universe.
Depressing, that thought is.

That aside, this is great news.

They should film the next Transformers movie with that camera. Hu Durrr...

(I am very curious though, if I took a picture of myself with that, could I see my own chromosomes?)

A Satanic Panda:

King of Asgaard:
...And given the chance, a good chunk of the population would rather use that camera to take pictures of themselves and edit in some variant on YOLO or SWAG, than actually uncover more about the universe.
Depressing, that thought is.

That aside, this is great news.

They should film the next Transformers movie with that camera. Hu Durrr...

(I am very curious though, if I took a picture of myself with that, could I see my own chromosomes?)

you'd look like an insect splattered on a camera lens most likely, i doubt it has a 'macro' mode like a regular dslr

Just don't point that thing towards Mars, it may suck up an unlucky J'onn J'onzz. :p

I find it odd that scientists are surprised matter is accelerating. I mean isnt space 101 that if you apply force to matter it will keep accelerating unless it runs into soemthing or you apply enough force to slow, stop or change its direction?

Therefore if the big bang happened, then it makes perfect sense that the matter from that event would have been given a "push" away from the source and would continue to accellerate accordingly.

Certainly within for example galaxies there will be local events that move matter in other directions, but the original galaxy itself will continue to display the original force influence no?

In any case its very interesting and a great time to be alive when we are unlocking so much of our foundations and origins.

I just came here from a Gangnam Style thread. I'd like to think there's a connection.

And take that space. We're slowly but surely unraveling your mysteries.

Um the outside of the TARDIS is a Police box. There is no outside TARDIS, only the police box. so it is a minomer to say it is a big as the TARDIS' outside.

King of Asgaard:
...And given the chance, a good chunk of the population would rather use that camera to take pictures of themselves and edit in some variant on YOLO or SWAG, than actually uncover more about the universe.
Depressing, that thought is.

Why did you have to remind us the ridiculous, horrible reality? I wanted to enjoy this but now all I can think about are the numerous idiots I have on Facebook!

Razorback0z:
I find it odd that scientists are surprised matter is accelerating. I mean isnt space 101 that if you apply force to matter it will keep accelerating unless it runs into soemthing or you apply enough force to slow, stop or change its direction?

Correct.

Therefore if the big bang happened, then it makes perfect sense that the matter from that event would have been given a "push" away from the source and would continue to accellerate accordingly.

Not correct. The expansion of the universe is not, according to our current theories, propelled by a force (except dark energy, which is what we're trying to explain). Instead, it is driven by the expansion of space, so that the distance between objects grows even if the objects are not experiencing a force. The point is that gravitational attraction should be causing the expansion to slow down because all the galaxies are attracted to each other. They should not be speeding up the rate at which they separate.

Also worth pointing out that the source of the Big Bang was everywhere, it wasn't specific to one place that these galaxies are flying away from.

Baldr:
Um the outside of the TARDIS is a Police box. There is no outside TARDIS, only the police box. so it is a minomer to say it is a big as the TARDIS' outside.

But that's what he means, that it's as big as a police box.

Razorback0z:
I find it odd that scientists are surprised matter is accelerating. I mean isnt space 101 that if you apply force to matter it will keep accelerating unless it runs into soemthing or you apply enough force to slow, stop or change its direction?

Therefore if the big bang happened, then it makes perfect sense that the matter from that event would have been given a "push" away from the source and would continue to accellerate accordingly.

Certainly within for example galaxies there will be local events that move matter in other directions, but the original galaxy itself will continue to display the original force influence no?

In any case its very interesting and a great time to be alive when we are unlocking so much of our foundations and origins.

No. It doesnt keep accelerating until stopped, it keeps going at the same speed, more acceleration needs more force.

in before "camera is digital and therefore inferior".
oh wait, this is not imdb.

This i all well and good but doesnt relaly tell us anything.
My theory is that universe is accelerating because the "big bang" is still happening, ie we are still "Exploding" just slower than before.

Razorback0z:
I find it odd that scientists are surprised matter is accelerating. I mean isnt space 101 that if you apply force to matter it will keep accelerating unless it runs into soemthing or you apply enough force to slow, stop or change its direction?

Therefore if the big bang happened, then it makes perfect sense that the matter from that event would have been given a "push" away from the source and would continue to accellerate accordingly.

Certainly within for example galaxies there will be local events that move matter in other directions, but the original galaxy itself will continue to display the original force influence no?

In any case its very interesting and a great time to be alive when we are unlocking so much of our foundations and origins.

Actually, given there are no forces acting against it, a body will move at constant velocity when a force is applied to it. To make it keep on accelerating, you would need a constant force. The Big Bang happened only once, so logic dictates that after the initial acceleration, the galaxies would continue to move away from each other at a constant velocity, and actually decelerate because of the gravitational attraction to each other. But something keeps providing the energy to keep up the acceleration.

I love physics. I really really do.

ooh, can we somehow perhaps harness this mysterious source of energy? or is it the kind of thing that calls forth the deep ones...

Razorback0z:
I find it odd that scientists are surprised matter is accelerating. I mean isnt space 101 that if you apply force to matter it will keep accelerating unless it runs into soemthing or you apply enough force to slow, stop or change its direction?

Therefore if the big bang happened, then it makes perfect sense that the matter from that event would have been given a "push" away from the source and would continue to accellerate accordingly.

Certainly within for example galaxies there will be local events that move matter in other directions, but the original galaxy itself will continue to display the original force influence no?

In any case its very interesting and a great time to be alive when we are unlocking so much of our foundations and origins.

that's not quite right. as the first law of newton says:"If an object experiences no net force, then its velocity is constant: the object is either at rest (if its velocity is zero), or it moves in a straight line with constant speed (if its velocity is nonzero)."(god bless Wikipedia!) so we had a net force at the beginning and the big bang and now there is no force. so we shouldn't have accelerating unless something else cause that force. thats why most scientists were mind blown when they found out the universe is expanding.

Justank:
I love you science, you're so wonderful to us.

<3

Was thinking this.

Oh if only I were less lazy, I would be moar attentive to your findings >_>

 

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