Giant Camera Will Seek Out Dark Energy

570 megapixel camera can see 7 billion years into past
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 23, 2011 8:10 AM CDT
Giant Camera Will Seek Out Dark Energy
The Dark Energy Camera, complete with 74 science-grade CCDs. Ready to observe 300 million galaxies and discover thousands of supernovae.   (Reidar Hahn/Fermilab.)

(Newser) – So you think the 5.0 megapixel camera on your iPhone is pretty cool? Try 570 megapixels. That's the resolution on a new Dark Energy Camera being built by Fermilab just outside of Chicago, reports NPR. Comprised of 74 lenses up to three feet across, the Dark Energy Camera weighs about a ton and will be installed later this year on the Blanco telescope, high in the mountains of Chile. "With this camera we'll be able to go back about 6, 7 billion years, so about three-quarters to half-way back to the Big Bang," says Brenna Flaugher, one of the physicists working on the camera.

The rate of our universe's expansion is speeding up, counter to Einstein's theory of General Relativity, and scientists think dark energy could be the reason for the strange effect. And while dark energy cannot be photographed directly, the Dark Energy Camera can look into galaxies far, far away and long ago, gathering information about the universe's expansion. "There's too much room for the theorists to come up with crazy ideas right now," said Flaugher. "And we need data." You can learn more about the camera and the search for dark energy at the Dark Energy Survey website. (Read more astronomy stories.)

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