Most of today’s miraculous news about space exploration and scientific discovery isn’t science fiction, it’s our world pushing the limits of how far our imaginations can reach. The Dark Energy Camera sounds like something straight out of an Orson Welles novel and inconceivable, but it existence is as real as our recent exploration of Mars.
The camera which is set inside the Blanco telescope, atop Chile’s Atacama desert is the most powerful astronomical imager ever built, and at 570 megapixels works like other digital cameras, except that it is much more massive and sensitive.
In this mosaic detail from photographs that were taken near the center of the star cluster 47 Tucanae, which is only 17,000 light years from Earth (in astronomy jargon, that is barely a trip to the grocery store), we can already begin to see (to the trained eye of course) galaxies that are nearly 8 billion light years away.
The purpose of this camera is to gain a more accurate and larger cosmic measurement of the universe. The information is then used to measure the evolution of our own galaxy fueling the age old question…where did we come from?
You can actually make out the beginning of galaxies billions of light years away, a literal trip that makes one revel in the imagination of man.
Over the next five years, the camera, will photograph approximately 300 million galaxies right from the Atacama desert, where the sky shines with an unparalleled clarity seen very few other places on Earth.
The most important use of this camera is to measure the dynamics of our universe’s expansion. Researchers will search images for distortions which are caused when dark energy tugs on photons. What this essentially means is that we’ll be able to see as to what degree the universe is expanding and what drove the expansion in the first place.