New Lenses To Help In The Hunt For Dark Energy

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Since the 1990s, scientists have been aware that for the past several billion years, the Universe has been expanding at an accelerated rate. They have further hypothesized that some form of invisible energy must be responsible for this, one which makes up 68.3% of the mass-energy of the observable Universe. While there is no direct evidence that this “Dark Energy” exists, plenty of indirect evidence has been obtained by observing the large-scale mass density of the Universe and the rate at which is expanding.But in the coming years, scientists hope to develop technologies and methods that will allow them to see exactly how Dark Energy has influenced the development of the Universe. One such effort comes from the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, where scientists are working to develop an instrument that will create a comprehensive 3D map of a third of the Universe so that its growth history can be tracked.Known as the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), this project plans to start with the present day, pinpointing the locations of galaxies in the Universe, and then work backwards into the past. DESI officially kicked off with the recent delivery of two new and improved lenses to the Mayall Telescope at the Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona.The first of six such upgrades, these two new lenses – Corrector Lens 1 and Corrector Lens 4 (C1 and C4) – have been in production since early 2015. Measuring 1 meter in diameter and weighing 201.395 kg (444 pounds) and 236.775 kg (522 pounds), respectively, these lenses are scheduled to undergo a final antireflective coating before being integrated into the Mayall telescope’s new steel corrector barrel.Each of these lenses comes equipped with 5000 optical fibers, similar to kind of cables used for high-speed data traffic (i.e. internet and —> Read More

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