The most detailed 3D map of the universe is currently being created, with astrophysicists revealing details of the first 7.5 million out of 35 million galaxies.
The Dark Energy Spectroscopy Instrument (DESI) has completed the first seven months of the survey, which is expected to take a total of five years.
An international collaboration of scientists, led by the US Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, is using the survey to create a “tremendously detailed 3D map” that will help explain dark energy.
So far, it has classified more than 7.5 million galaxies, and is adding about a million more per month, in its mission to get a map showing 35 million unique galaxies. The goal of the project is to shed light on the mysterious dark energy, the force that makes up 68% of the universe and is accelerating its expansion.
Having the map will allow astronomers to understand how the universe began, and where it is headed next, especially if it will forever expand, collapse, or separate.
Project scientist Dr Julian Gay, from the University of California, Berkeley, said the team was seeing patterns and structures throughout the universe with the new map.
And in the distribution of galaxies in the 3D map, there are huge clusters, filaments, and voids.
Professor Carlos Frink, of Durham University, who is also involved in the project, said that although it is in its early stages, scientists are already beginning to blaze a trail.
He explained, “DESI is already breaking new ground in producing this map of the universe which is the most detailed map we’ve ever seen. This will help us search for clues about the nature of dark energy, but we will also learn more about dark matter and the role it plays in how galaxies like ours are formed.” The Milky Way and how the universe is evolving. We look forward with great anticipation to the treasure trove of data that DESI will collect over the next few years.”
Astronomers believe that dark energy – which makes up about 68% of the known universe – resists gravitational pull and stops contraction.
To confirm this, and to understand the phenomenon of dark energy, the team created DESI, made up of 5,000 small automated telescopes, each of which image a new galaxy every 20 minutes. It’s able to scan more galaxies in one year than any other telescope on Earth combined, thanks in part to a modern fiber-optic system that splits light from objects in space — such as galaxies and stars — into narrow bands of color.
These colors reveal the chemical makeup of the target organism, as well as information about how far it is and how fast it can travel.
The DESI data will go back 11 billion years – revealing clues about the evolution of not just galaxies, but quasars – the brightest objects in the universe.
By dividing the light from each galaxy into its color spectrum, DESI can determine how much the light has redshifted. This is how far it has stretched toward the red end of the spectrum due to the expansion of the universe in the billions of years it traveled before it reached Earth.
As the universe expands, more dark energy appears, accelerating the expansion further, in a cycle that drives part of the dark energy in the universe upwards.
DESI is already driving breakthroughs in our understanding of the distant past, more than 10 billion years ago when galaxies were still young.
DESI was installed at the four-meter Nicholas U Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona.
The device saw its first light in late 2019, but the “Covid-19” pandemic shut it down for several months, with work continuing into December 2020.
Source: Daily Mail