An international team of scientists and engineers are building a massive dark energy hunting machine to probe the far reaches of the universe for clues of this mysterious force.
When it comes to what we know about the universe, our knowledge covers approximately 5% of the entire universe, and the other 95%…well, we just don’t know. The majority of that mysterious 95% is made up of dark energy, something scientists can detect through certain measurements but have not been able to observe directly.
Dark energy is a mysterious force that scientists first became aware of in the late 1990s after two independent teams of astrophysicists were racing to determine the rate at which the universe was expanding.
And currently, dark energy is expanding the universe at a rapid pace and cosmologists from across the globe are unsure as to why.
And so what’s next when it comes to the exploration of dark energy?
An international team of scientists and engineers are banding together on the DESI experiment to build a machine that hunts dark energy and could finally shed some light on this mysterious force.
DESI is a fiber optic spectrograph that will construct a 3D map of the universe tracing nearly 12 billion years of cosmic history. It will measure the spectra of more than 35 million galaxies to observe the effect dark energy has on the expansion of the cosmos.
DESI is being mounted on a telescope in Arizona and could start surveying the sky as early as 2020. The machine uses new classes of optical designs that allow the engineering marvel to see more of the sky than before.
Learn more about the complexities of this massive robotic detector that will chart the edge of the universe on this episode of Focal Point.
Blinded by the Dark (Energy)
“Dark energy is the name physicists use for whatever substance, force or property of space is messing with the Universe, making its expansion accelerate. As yet, we know almost nothing about it, which has allowed theories about it to multiply uncontrolled. But astronomers are training an impressive array of instruments on the problem.”
Robot detector to map cosmos for clues to dark energy
“In 1998, astronomers discovered an astonishing fact: Some antigravitational force was speeding up the expansion of the universe. Two decades later, this “dark energy” is still a mystery. But next month, a veteran telescope in Arizona will begin to hunt for clues, after being retrofitted with a robotic system to map an unprecedented 35 million galaxies and how they clump across space and time.”
A new pair of lenses for the Mayall
“The delicate process of lens crafting takes time and care. For your typical prescription eyeglasses, expect two weeks for proper sizing and glare-resistant coating. For a four-meter telescope with meter-wide lenses, a similar procedure takes well over a year.”
– 2010 The Regents of the University of California, through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
– NASA/NCSA University of Illinois, Frank Summers, STScI, Martin White, Lars Hernquist, Harvard University
– NASA GSFC, NASA/ESA/Viz 3D Team/STScI/F. Summers, G. Bacon, Z. Levay, L. Frattare and University of Alaska Anchorage/T. Rector, WIYN/H. Schweiker, NOAO/AURA/NSF, STScI/AURA/The Hubble Heritage Team, T. Rector