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Dark energy camera achieves first light

The most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created recorded its first images on Sept. 12. The 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera (DECam), the main components of which are shown here, was constructed at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Ill., and mounted on the Victor M. Blanco telescope at the National Science Foundation’s Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory, the southern branch of the US National Optical Astronomy Observatory. With this device, roughly the size of a phone booth, astronomers and physicists will probe the mystery of dark energy, the force they believe is causing the universe to expand faster and faster. A photometric imaging camera, DECam measures the amount of light in various colors from astronomical objects rather than details of their spectra. It can see light from more than 100,000 galaxies up to 8 billion light-years away in each snapshot.


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