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High Resolution Dark Energy Camera Snaps First Image of Galaxies Eight Billion Light Years Away

Sep 19, 2012 09:01 AM EDT

A powerful sky-mapping camera, with a high resolution of 570 megapixels, has snapped the first image of light emitted from galaxies that are located some eight billion light years away.

The camera known as the Dark Energy Camera has been placed on top of a mountain in the Chilean Andes in order to search for dark energy, an unknown source of energy that is causing galaxies to move away from each other. The more farther they are from each other, the more faster they move away.

The new high resolution camera took its first image on Sept. 12. It is used as part of the Dark Energy Survey, the largest survey to look for dark energy, in collaboration with astrophysicists from University of Portsmouth, University College London, Cambridge, Edinburgh, Sussex and Nottingham, UK.

The camera can capture and give clear view of 100,000 galaxies so that the astronomers can scan them to find out why the galaxies are moving faster causing the universe to expand. The astronomers will collect the data based on the survey in order to perform four probes on dark energy, supernovae, galaxy clusters, the large-scale clumping of galaxies, and weak gravitational lensing.

"The Dark Energy Camera will provide astronomers from all over the world a powerful new tool to explore the outstanding questions of our time, perhaps the most pressing of which is the nature of Dark Energy," Professor Will Percival, of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth, said in a news release from the university.

"This will be the largest galaxy survey of its kind, and the galaxy shapes and positions will tell us a great deal about the nature of the physical process that we call Dark Energy, but do not currently understand," he said.

The Dark Energy Survey is likely to begin in December this year. The camera will take clear and colorful images of one-eighth of the sky for a period of five years. According to the experts, they should be able to find and measure as many as 300 million galaxies and 100,000 galaxy clusters.

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