Advertisement

15 breathtaking images captured by the Dark Energy Camera

The Southern Pinwheel Galaxy (also known as Messier 83 or NGC 5236) is about 15 million lightyears from Earth. It took DECam more than 11 hours of exposure time to capture this image. The camera is mounted on the VĂ­ctor M. Blanco 4-meter Telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, a program of NSF's NOIRLab. Credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA; Acknowledgment: M. Soraisam (University of Illinois); Image processing: Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mahdi Zamani, and Davide de Martin

The Dark Energy Camera has taken over one million exposures of the southern sky from a high vantage point in the Chilean Andes. Around 2.5 billion celestial objects were photographed, including galaxies and galaxy clusters, stars, comets, asteroids, dwarf planets, and supernovae. The remarkable 570-megapixel camera was initially created for the Dark Energy Survey at the United States Department of Energy's Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory ten years ago. The multinational DES partnership investigates dark energy, a phenomenon that is speeding up the expansion of space.

The Dark Energy Survey, whose experts are now analyzing data from 2013 to 2019, isn't the only project to benefit from the powerful piece of equipment. Other scientific organizations have also utilized the camera to undertake astronomical observations and surveys. Here are some of the amazing images captured by the Dark Energy Camera. The Dark Energy Survey captured light from galaxies up to 8 billion lightyears distant, imaging one-eighth of the sky. The survey scanned ten "deep fields" like the one depicted here repeatedly. Scientists can observe extremely distant galaxies and dim objects by returning to certain parts of the sky and building up and collecting different wavelengths of light. These deep fields can be used to calibrate the remaining DES data and to search for supernovae.

The Dark Energy Survey imaged one-eighth of the sky, capturing light from galaxies up to 8 billion lightyears away. The survey repeatedly imaged 10 "deep fields" like the one shown here. By returning to certain sections of the sky, scientists are able to build up and collect different wavelengths of light to image incredibly distant galaxies and faint objects. These deep fields can be used to calibrate the rest of the DES data and to hunt for supernovae. Credit: Dark Energy Survey/DOE/FNAL/DECam/CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA; Acknowledgments: T.A. Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage/NSF's NOIRLab), M. Zamani (NSF's NOIRLab) and D. de Martin (NSF's NOIRLab)

While the Dark Energy Survey primarily observes objects millions or billions of lightyears distant, closer objects are occasionally observed. The Dark Energy Survey discovered Comet Lovejoy in 2014, roughly 51 million kilometers from Earth. Each rectangle in the image represents one of DECam's 62 CCDs, which are advanced sensors intended to collect light from faraway galaxies. The spiral galaxy NGC 1566, often known as the Spanish Dancer, is approximately 69 million lightyears away from Earth. Each DECam photo is the consequence of decisions taken during image processing. The camera employs five filters, each of which records a distinct wavelength of light (between 400 and 1,080 nanometers) and may be used to create color photographs.

This DECam image, which was obtained staring toward the core of our Milky Way galaxy, covers an area nearly twice the size of the full moon and contains over 180,000 stars. You may also see a larger version that includes more of the Milky Way's bulge. While magnificent, the Milky Way's stars and dust obscure distant galaxies needed to research dark energy, therefore the Dark Energy Survey normally points the telescope in the other direction, away from our galaxy's plane. From Earth, we can see the spiral galaxy NGC 681 from the side (or edge-on). The galaxy is around 66.5 million lightyears distant and is also known as the Little Sombrero Galaxy. DECam has a Hexapod mechanism, which uses six pneumatically powered pistons to align the camera's numerous optical components between exposures, to maintain pictures of distant objects as clearly as possible. DECam includes five optical lenses in addition to the five light filters, the largest of which is more than 3 feet wide and weighs 388 pounds.

The spiral galaxy NGC 1566, sometimes called the Spanish Dancer, is about 69 million lightyears from Earth. Each photo from DECam is the result of choices made during image processing. The camera uses five filters that each record a different wavelength of light (between 400 and 1,080 nanometers) and can be combined to make color images. Credit: Dark Energy Survey

The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are dwarf satellite galaxies of the Milky Way, and their close closeness makes them an excellent location for studying star formation. The Survey of the Magellanic Stellar History, or SMASH, used the Dark Energy Camera to get up close and personal with our galactic neighbors. The huge galaxy in the middle of this picture is NGC 1515, a spiral galaxy in the Dorado Group with numerous surrounding galaxies. When astronomers examine the large-scale structure of the universe, they discover that galaxies are not randomly dispersed but instead cluster together, forming a type of cosmic web. The Dark Energy Survey has created some of the most detailed maps of the structure of the cosmos and its history across time.

NGC 288 is a globular star cluster around 28,700 lightyears from Earth. Gravity holds these stars together, concentrating them toward the center of the sphere. Globular clusters are an intriguing approach to studying the evolution of stars and our own Milky Way, but the Dark Energy Survey looks at distant galaxies and galaxy clusters to better comprehend dark energy. The Dark Energy Survey discovered numerous new dwarf galaxies and utilized the data to constrain the size of putative dark matter particles. IC 1613 is a 2.4 million lightyear distant irregular dwarf galaxy with around 100 million stars. By astronomical standards, dwarf galaxies are tiny and dim; our Milky Way galaxy is thought to contain between 100 and 400 billion stars.

This DECam photo, taken looking toward the center of our Milky Way galaxy, covers an area roughly twice as wide as the full moon and contains more than 180,000 stars. You can also see a wider version encompassing more of the Milky Way's bulge. While beautiful, the stars and dust of the Milky Way block out distant galaxies needed to study dark energy so the Dark Energy Survey typically aims the telescope in the opposite direction, away from the plane of our galaxy. Credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/DOE/NSF/AURA/STScI, W. Clarkson (UM-Dearborn), C. Johnson (STScI), and M. Rich (UCLA)
From our position on Earth, we see the spiral galaxy NGC 681 from the side (or edge-on). The galaxy, also known as the Little Sombrero Galaxy, is about 66.5 million lightyears away. To keep images of distant objects as sharp as possible, DECam uses a mechanism called a Hexapod, which uses six pneumatically driven pistons to align the camera's many optical elements between exposures. In addition to the five light filters, DECam also has five optical lenses, the biggest of which is more than 3 feet wide and weighs 388 pounds. Credit: Erin Sheldon, Dark Energy Survey

A wide-angle view of the Small Magellanic Cloud. The Large and Small Magellanic Clouds are dwarf satellite galaxies to the Milky Way, and their proximity makes them a valuable place to study star formation. The Dark Energy Camera captured deep looks at our galactic neighbors for the Survey of the Magellanic Stellar History or SMASH. Credit: CTIO/NOIRLab/NSF/AURA/SMASH/D. Nidever (Montana State University); Acknowledgment: Image processing: Travis Rector (University of Alaska Anchorage), Mahdi Zamani, and Davide de Martin

The Helix Nebula (NGC 7293) is a planetary nebula located around 650 lightyears away from Earth. It is illustrated here spanning numerous CCDs on the Dark Energy Camera. Planetary nebulae, so named because they resembled planets with spherical and sharp edges, are actually the remnants of stars. A dying star has expelled its outer layers, leaving a tiny white dwarf surrounded by gas in this location. Our own sun will suffer a similar destiny in billions of years. The spiral Sculptor Galaxy is located around 11 million lightyears distant. The Dark Energy Survey scanned almost 500 million galaxies over 5000 square degrees of sky. DES employed automated software to aim the camera and take exposures to improve observations. The software could take into account the part of the sky that was overhead, the weather, moonlight, and which places had recently been scanned.

The wispy shells around the elliptical galaxy NGC 474 (center) are made up of hundreds of millions of stars. This zoomable image shows a spiral galaxy to the left and hundreds of other, more distant galaxies in the background. DECam pictures hold massive quantities of data; each one is around a gigabit in size. The Dark Energy Survey would capture hundreds of photos every session, yielding up to 2.5 terabytes of data in a single night.

Post a Comment

0 Comments