Skip to main content

5,000 ‘eyes’ will scan the night sky for clues to the puzzle of dark energy

A view of the interior of the Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory. Marilyn Chung/Berkeley Lab

The hunt for dark energy has gained a new weapon, with the first test of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) being completed recently. DESI is installed atop the Nicholas U. Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory outside Tucson, Arizona and will search for evidence of the mysterious energy which makes up 68% of the universe and speeds up its expansion.

“After a decade in planning and R&D, installation and assembly, we are delighted that DESI can soon begin its quest to unravel the mystery of dark energy,” DESI Director Michael Levi of the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory said in a statement. “Most of the universe’s matter and energy are dark and unknown, and next-generation experiments like DESI are our best bet for unraveling these mysteries. I am thrilled to see this new experiment come to life.”

The gathered light collected from a small region in the Triangulum galaxy (bottom) by a single fiber-optic cable is split into a spectrum (bottom) that reveals the fingerprints of the elements present in the galaxy and aid in gauging the distance to the galaxy. The test spectrum shown here was collected by DESI on October 22. Credit: Dustin Lang, Aaron Meisner, DESI Collaboration/Imagine Sky Viewer; NASA/JPL-Caltech/UCLA; and Legacy Surveys project

To compile the first image shown above, DESI used its 5,000 spectroscopic “eyes” which peer out into the night sky. Each eye can focus on a single object to take in the light it produces. In this case, the instrument collected data from a small region in the Triangulum galaxy.

In order to hunt out dark energy, DESI will begin by mapping the distance to 35 million galaxies across one-third of the sky. It will also map the distance to 2.4 million quasars, supermassive black holes which give off powerful bursts of electromagnetic radiation. This mapping will help astronomers see the literal big picture of the expansion of the universe.

“Galaxies aren’t scattered randomly in space, but instead form a complex pattern from which we can learn about the composition and history of the universe,” Professor Daniel Eisenstein of the Center for Astrophysics at Harvard & Smithsonian explained in the same statement. “The unprecedented maps from DESI will allow us to measure how the universe has expanded over time, to see how gravity and dark energy compete to pull and push material apart.”

Having captured its first image, DESI will officially begin its scientific observations in early 2020.

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
4 simple pieces of tech that helped me run my first marathon
Garmin Forerunner 955 Solar displaying pace information.

The fitness world is littered with opportunities to buy tech aimed at enhancing your physical performance. No matter your sport of choice or personal goals, there's a deep rabbit hole you can go down. It'll cost plenty of money, but the gains can be marginal -- and can honestly just be a distraction from what you should actually be focused on. Running is certainly susceptible to this.

A few months ago, I ran my first-ever marathon. It was an incredible accomplishment I had no idea I'd ever be able to reach, and it's now going to be the first of many I run in my lifetime. And despite my deep-rooted history in tech, and the endless opportunities for being baited into gearing myself up with every last product to help me get through the marathon, I went with a rather simple approach.

Read more
This bracelet helps you fall asleep faster and sleep longer
woman-in-bed-wearing-twilight-apollo-on-ankle

This content was produced in partnership with Apollo Neuroscience.
Have you been struggling to get the recommended seven hours of sleep? It's always frustrating when you get in bed at a reasonable time, then toss and turn for a hours before you actually sleep. The quality of that sleep is important too. If you're waking up multiple times during the night, you're likely not getting the quality REM cycle sleep that truly rejuvenates your body. If traditional remedies like herbal teas and noise machines just aren't helping, maybe it's time to try a modern solution. Enter the Apollo wearable.

Now we understand being a little skeptical. How can a bracelet on your wrist or ankle affect your sleep patterns? Certainly the answer to a better night's sleep can't be so simple. We considered these same things when we first heard of it. We'll dive deeper into the science behind the Apollo wearable, but suffice it to say that many people have experienced deeper, uninterrupted sleep while wearing one.
A non-conventional approach to better sleep

Read more
The 11 best Father’s Day deals that you can get for Sunday
Data from a workout showing on the screen of the Apple Watch Series 8.

Father's Day is fast approaching and there's still time to buy your beloved Dad a sweet new device to show him how much you love him. That's why we've rounded up the ten best Father's Day tech deals going on right now. There's something for most budgets here, including if you're able to spend a lot on your loved one. Read on while we take you through the highlights and remember to order fast so you don't miss out on the big day.
Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 -- $200, was $230

While it's the Plus version of the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 that features in our look at the best tablets, the standard variety is still worth checking out. Saving your Dad the need to dig out their laptop or squint at a small phone screen, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A8 offers a large 10.5-inch LCD display and all the useful features you would expect. 128GB of storage means plenty of room for all your Dad's favorite apps as well as games too. A long-lasting battery and fast charging save him the need for a power source too often too.

Read more