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Astronomers Capture Two Million Distant Galaxies For 3D Map

DESI telescope's dataset aims to shed light on dark energy and dark matter.

Two million distant galaxies, supermassive black holes and stars have been captured by astronomers.

They will help create the largest and most detailed 3D map of the universe to date.

The Durham University team observed their spectra – the decomposition of light into different colors or wavelengths.

It reveals the rate at which the universe is expanding and sheds fresh light on the physical properties of the cosmos – including the Milky Way.

The faraway objects were cataloged by a super telescope called DESI.

They were identified from more than 3,500 exposures to the night sky taken over six months.

It is the project’s first step in eventually charting more than 40 million galaxies, stars and quasars and stars.

The first 80-terabyte dataset, containing the two million spectra, comes from more than 3,500 exposures of the night sky taken over six months.

Lead author Professor Carlos Frenk said: “DESI is the most ambitious venture to date seeking answers to some of the most fundamental questions in science – what is our universe made of? How did it get to be the way it is? What does the future hold?

“Durham astronomers are playing a leading role within this large international collaboration and are at the forefront of efforts to interpret the unique data that DESI is seamlessly delivering.”

The ultimate aim is to understand dark energy – a mysterious force that has been described as the “opposite of gravity.”

DESI (Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument) contains 5,000 robotically-controlled mini-telescopes.

It can analyze light from more than 100,000 galaxies – in a single night, which is a world record.

DESI spokeswoman Dr. Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille, of the Berkeley Lab, California, said: “The fact DESI works so well, and that the amount of science-grade data it took during survey validation is comparable to previous completed sky surveys, is a monumental achievement.

“This milestone shows DESI is a unique spectroscopic factory whose data will not only allow the study of dark energy but will also be coveted by the whole scientific community to address other topics, such as dark matter, gravitational lensing and galactic morphology.”

A state-of-the-art fibreoptic system splits light from objects in space such as galaxies, quasars and stars into narrow bands of color.

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument sits atop the Mayall 4-Meter Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona. PHOTO BY MARILYN SARGENT/SWNS 

They reveal the chemical makeup as well as information about how far away they are and how fast they are traveling.

The map will also give new insights on dark matter – the invisible glue that holds the universe together.

Quasars, a type of supermassive black hole, are the brightest objects in space.

DESI’s data will go 11 billion years back in time – revealing clues about the universe’s evolution.

Enormous black holes are thought to inhabit the cores of nearly every large galaxy – like the Milky Way.

DESI is installed at the Nicholas U Mayall four-meter telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Ariz.

It is currently two years into its five-year run – and ahead of schedule. The survey has already logged more than 26 million astronomical objects – adding over a million a month.

Produced in association with SWNS Talker

Edited by Saba Fatima and Alberto Arellano

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