Dark Energy Survey set to seek out supernovae

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Posted July 3, 2013
View of Blanco Telescope (centre) at night. Credit: Fermilab Visual Media Services

View of Blanco Telescope (centre) at night. Credit: Fermilab Visual Media Services

The largest ever search for supernovae – exploding stars up to 10 billion times brighter than the Sun – is beginning this August. For the next five years, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) will look for these cosmic explosions, which can be used to measure precisely the growth of the universe over time. The aim of the survey is to improve understanding of Dark Energy, the mysterious force causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate. A status update on the project and candidate supernovae found during the commissioning phase will be presented by Dr Chris D’Andrea at the National Astronomy Meeting in St Andrews on Tuesday, 2 July.

DES is operated by an international collaboration of researchers from 25 institutions and consortia, including six universities in the UK. It will use a massive new 570 Megapixel camera (DECam) installed on the four-meter diameter Blanco telescope, high in the mountains of Chile. The instrument was commissioned in September and October 2012, and this was followed by a period of science verification from November through February 2013.

“Thanks to the extreme sensitivity of the camera and to the large area of sky that can be imaged through the telescope at once (about 15 times the size of the full moon), we expect DES to find more supernovae than any previous experiment. During the verification phase, we have already identified at least 200 good candidates,” said Dr D’Andrea, a researcher at the University of Portsmouth’s Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation.

Read more at: Phys.org



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