Astronomers still release the largest map of the universe

1642159943 Astronomers still release the largest map of the universe

After just seven months, a large team of scientists working with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument has already mapped a larger map of the cosmos than all other 3D studies combined. And with only 10 percent of the way through their five - year mission, there is much more to come.

DESI, pronounced Desi Arnaz, has unveiled an amazing cosmic web of more than 7.5 million galaxies, and scanned up to 40 million. The instrument is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and installed at Nicholas U. Mayall's 4-meter Telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona. It measures the exact distances of galaxies from Earth and the light they emit at a range of waves, achieving volume and quality at the same time. It will eventually cover about 14,000 square steps, about a third of the sky. The science gained from parsing the data is yet to come, but it will be of particular help to astronauts as they study how the universe is expanding.

“It really is a fantastic adventure. We were able to move on despite the pandemic. We had to shut down for a few months and then we made a change, ”said Julien Guy, DESI project scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the collaboration's lead institute. The views and data processing are now largely automated; Every morning the scientists get data on as many as 100,000 galaxies collected overnight, he says.

“It's amazing how well this instrument works and how well it was designed to go out and get distances to these galaxies. It is a very effective tool for harvesting in a way that even two decades ago would have been interesting, ”said Jason Rhodes, a research scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena working on space telescopes to map galaxies into the early universe.

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The Sloan Digital Sky Survey (left) and the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (right) capture light that was emitted when the universe was less than half its current age .

Courtesy of D. Schlegel / Berkeley Lab using data from DESI

DESI is actually made up of a number of devices embedded inside the telescope’s 14-story globe. The focal plane is round near the top, and consists of 10 wedge-shaped leaflets, each with 500 tiny robots. These are what enable the instrument 's galactic cartography: These 5,000 pencil - sized robotic motors position optical fiber that must be properly positioned within 10 microns - less than the thickness of a human hair . This enables the instrument to collect accurate data about 5,000 galaxies simultaneously. The telescope then marks another area of ​​the night sky and begins work on the next 5,000. In contrast, one of DESI's predecessors, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, based at a telescope in southern New Mexico, had to manually drill holes into a round aluminum plate at focus the telescope for each measurement set, and they didn’t add much input. fiber for every galaxy they wanted to see.

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