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Giant Camera Will Hunt For Signs Of Dark Energy

Date- Source- 'A giant and powerful digital camera is about to be shipped from a lab near Chicago to a telescope in Chile to study a mysterious part of the universe called dark energy. Dark energy makes up most of our universe, but scientists currently know almost nothing about it except that it seems to be making the expansion of our universe speed up. "There's enough data that people know what we don't understand, but there's not enough data to explain it yet," says Brenna Flaugher, a physicist at Fermilab near Chicago, which assembled the Dark Energy Camera. "There's too much room for the theorists to come up with crazy ideas right now. And so there's lots of crazy ideas. And we need data." That's where this new 570-megapixel camera comes in. Flaugher says its basic technology would be familiar to anyone who uses a digital point-and-shoot. "The camera that we built is really very similar to the digital cameras you can buy at Walmart or wherever," she says. But this camera is big — its guts fill a shiny cylinder that's about the size of a car engine. "This thing weighs almost a ton," says Flaugher. And the lenses are huge and heavy, too — with the largest lens about 3 feet across. This camera is also incredibly sensitive. After it's mounted on the Blanco 4-meter telescope, high in the Chilean mountains, later this year, the camera will survey a large part of the sky for faint galaxies at the distant reaches of our universe. By studying these galaxies, scientists hope to learn more about dark energy. "I think this probably is the first camera that's been designed just to do dark energy," says Flaugher.' Photos-
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