Unveiling a Colossal Map of the Universe: DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys Tenth Data Release
Scientists have released a colossal map of the universe, featuring over one billion galaxies. The tenth data release from the Department of Energys Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Legacy Imaging Surveys has added increased sky and wavelength coverage to the already completed companion surveys. The survey is designed to improve our understanding of dark energy by mapping the history of the universes expansion over the last 12 billion years.
Combining data collected by telescopes around the world and running them through powerful Department of Energy computers, the survey has now revealed the locations of more than 200,000 new astronomical objects. Astronomers are now looking to create the most comprehensive map of the sky, and use that knowledge to predict the ultimate fate of the universe.
The DESI Legacy Imaging Surveys tenth data release focuses on incorporating fresh DECam imaging of the southern extragalactic sky. The Legacy Surveys have grown to encompass more than 20,000 square degrees of sky, accounting for about 50% of the sky, with the inclusion of southern sky images.
The goal of the map is to pinpoint approximately 40 million galaxies as part of the five-year DESI Spectroscopic Survey in order to gain insight into the perplexing dark energy. This ambitious six-year effort involved one petabyte (1000 trillion bytes) of data, and 100 million CPU hours on one of the worlds most powerful computers at the US Department of Energys National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center.
Mara Salvato, a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, added: This is essential for surveys at radio and X-ray wavelengths that need the complete “optical” view to identify the origin of the emission, like clusters of galaxies and active supermassive black holes.
The publically available data also makes it possible for astronomy enthusiasts and curious individuals to virtually explore the universe around us. The Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment (HETDEX) is a research initiative based at The University of Texas at Austin's McDonald Observatory. This project involves Dark Energy Explorers, an online volunteer program. Participants can experience what it’s like to be an astronomer using a smartphone or computer, teasing apart the mysteries of the universe while helping professional astronomers find distant galaxies and learn more about the mysterious force known as dark energy.
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