For the next five years, a telescope in Arizona is slated to peer across the universe, creating a massive map of galaxies in the hopes of cracking some of the universe’s deepest mysteries. Just six months in, the team announced on Jan. 13, the project has already accumulated the biggest three-dimensional map of galaxies ever assembled — and it’s adding another million to that map every month.
The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) is an international collaboration of hundreds of scientists led by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and funded primarily by the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science.
“We’re already outstripping all previous maps using galaxies, even with less than a year’s data,” said Department of Physics and Astronomy Professor Jeffrey Newman in the Kenneth P. Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences. “This new eye on the universe is now open.”
If you want to map the universe’s galaxies, you have to first figure out where to look. That’s where Newman comes in. Using data from hundreds of nights of observations from telescopes in Chile and Arizona and another in orbit, Newman and his students spent eight years assembling massive lists of galaxies with the right properties.
“It’s about figuring out which ones are far enough away to be interesting, but bright enough that we can actually get the measurements we need to make the maps,” Newman said.