Star cluster 47 Tucanae, which is 17,000 light-years away, as captured by the Dark Energy Camera (Photo : Dark Energy Survey Collaboration)
It might be invisible and incredibly hard to detect, but that hasn't stopped scientists from figuring out a way to try and understand dark energy. After completing the Dark Energy Camera, the most powerful surveying instrument of its kind, scientists are proud to say that they have captured and recorded light from over eight billion years ago.
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"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, an associate director from the U.S. Department of Energy. "The results of this survey will bring us closer to understanding the mystery of dark energy, and what it means for the universe."
The Dark Energy Camera is the principal tool of the Dark Energy Survey project in Chile which will begin in December after more testing, and should "record information on over 300 million galaxies, most so faint that their light is around 1 million times fainter than the dimmest star that can be seen with the naked eye," according to the survey's website.
They hope the camera can unravel some of the mystery surrounding dark energy, which accounts for approximately 73 percent of the mass-energy in the universe, and is the principal driving force behind the expansion of the universe.
The 570-megapixel camera, which is around the size of a phone booth, is located at the National Science Foundation's Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in the Chilean Andes where it will take 400 images, one gigabyte large, every night.
"We're very excited to bring the Dark Energy Camera online and make it available for the astronomical community through NOAO's open access telescope allocation," said Chris Smith, director at CTIO. "With it, we provide astronomers from all over the world a powerful new tool to explore the outstanding questions of our time, perhaps the most pressing of which is the nature of dark energy."
Watch the construction of the world's most powerful digital camera: