The Dark Energy Survey (DES) is a new survey of distant galaxies that aims to unravel the mystery of cosmic acceleration.
The DES uses multiple techniques to measure and study dark energy, the putative driving force of cosmic acceleration. Specifically, the DES studies dark energy through its impact on the abundance of galaxy clusters, weak gravitational lensing signals, type Ia supernovae and detections of large-scale correlations between galaxies. The combination of these various approaches will allow DES scientists to gain a more robust understanding of the current cosmological paradigm.
The survey uses a powerful new wide-field imaging camera called the Dark Energy Camera, or DECam, which was installed in 2012 on the 4-meter Blanco telescope in Chile. In its five-year campaign (2013-2018), the DECam will photograph approximately 5000 square degrees of the sky using five broadband filters, taking advantage of the excellent viewing conditions available on Cerro Tololo.
The final DES dataset 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, in running massive computer simulations of the Universe and DES data, and in several aspects of the analysis and processing of the DES data. The scientific focus at KIPAC includes weak gravitational lensing, clusters of galaxies, and galaxy evolution.
Click the images below to see a larger version
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.