Dark Energy Camera Dedication Amping Up Next Week
November 2, 2012

Dark Energy Camera Dedication Amping Up Next Week

Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

Today marks the 50th anniversary celebration of Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO), while next week is the dedication of a new instrument for the observatory.

The Dark Energy Camera was installed on the Victor M. Blanco telescope at CTIO, and it will be conducting powerful surveys by collecting light from 100,000 galaxies located up to 8 billion light years away.

The camera has 62 charged-coupled devices with an unprecedented sensitivity to very red light.

The Dark Energy Survey will attempt to answer why the expansion of the universe is speeding up rather than slowing down due to gravity.

"Bringing the Dark Energy Camera online and making it available for the astronomical community through NOAO´s open access telescope allocation is a milestone in the history of Cerro Tololo," Nicole van der Bliek, Director of the CTIO, said in a press release. "We are very proud that we start the celebration of 50 years of service by CTIO to U.S. astronomers with the dedication of this brand new capability."

The Dark Energy Survey will begin after the camera is fully tested, which will take about a month after the dedication.

The wide-field survey will create detailed color images of one-eighth of the sky to discover and measure 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters, and 4,000 supernovae.

CTIO was founded on November 23, 1962 when it was chosen as the site for the U.S. Southern Hemisphere observatory complex.

The Blanco telescope is considered a historic milestone because at its time it was the largest telescope in the southern hemisphere.

Astronomers first started observing with this telescope in January 1976. The principal telescopes on the AURA sites on Cerro Tololo and nearby Cerro Panchon are the Blanco Telescope, the Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope, and the Gemini Observatory.

There are over 10 other telescopes and astronomical projects that also share the Cerro Tololo site.