Dark Energy Survey
The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is a new survey of distant galaxies that aims to unravel the mystery of cosmic acceleration.
The DES will provide researchers with multiple techniques to measure and study dark energy, the driving force of cosmic acceleration. By examining such factors as the properties of galaxy clusters, measurements of weak gravitational lensing and supernovae, and detections of large-scale correlations between galaxies researchers will be able to evaluate the myriad effects of dark energy within the same dataset.
By using these various approaches, researchers will gain a more robust understanding of DES data and of the current cosmological paradigm.
The survey will use a powerful new wide-field imaging camera called the Dark Energy Camera, or DECam, which will be installed in 2012 on the 4-meter Blanco telescope in Chile. In its five-year campaign, the DECam will continuously photograph 5000 square degrees of the sky using five broadband filters, while taking advantage of the excellent viewing conditions available on Cerro Tololo.
The data will consist of precise photometric and morphological shape information for over 300 million galaxies at redshifts as deep as 2.0. The survey will also periodically revisit smaller patches of sky to seek out and study over 2500 type 1a supernovae.
KIPAC researchers working on DES are directly involved in calibrating the DES imaging data, and in running massive computer simulations of the Universe. This effort will allow the DES team to prepare for the challenge of processing and analyzing the data. In addition, the team will also use DES data to analyze weak gravitational lensing, clusters of galaxies, and galaxy evolution.
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The Blanco 4m telescope that will be used for the Dark Energy Survey. The telescope is on an equatorial mount that provides smooth and continuous tracking on the sky. New primary mirror mounts and active alignment of the camera at the prime focus (at the top ring) will provide excellent control over the quality of images taken during the survey.
The dome of the Blanco on Cerro Tololo in Northern Chile. A live webcam view of the mountain top can be found at http://www.ctio.nanao.edu/new/Sky%20Conditions/Webcam/.
The new 570 Megapixel DECam camera that will be installed on the Blanco telescope in January 2012. The view shown here is through the cryostat window looking down onto the focal plane. The first full season of DES observing is planned for September 2012 - February 2013, and will cover the 5000 square degree DES footprint twice in each of five broad band filters grizY.