More than 690 million celestial objects have been catalogued, photographed and are now available online for exploration by the public, thanks to an international research collaboration.
In a collaboration including The University of Queensland, The Australian National University and researchers from around Australia, the Dark Energy Survey (DES) has released its second set of data, mapping roughly an eighth of the night sky and seeing far back in time to half the age of the known universe.
“’What is the universe made of?’, ‘how did it begin?’, ‘how will it end?’ and ‘how do the laws of physics work?’ – these are just some of the mind-boggling questions we hope to answer,” Professor Davis said.
“To tackle them, we’ve had to photograph and map the sheer vastness of the universe, not only in space, but far back in time, before Earth existed.
“For almost eight years we’ve been busy mapping hundreds of millions of galaxies and discovering thousands of supernovae.
“This extensive mapping allows us to measure the history of cosmic expansion and the growth of large-scale structure in the universe, both of which reflect the nature and amount of dark energy in the universe.
“I’m excited to use the data to investigate the nature of dark energy itself, which should reveal what’s behind the acceleration of the expansion of the universe.
“This is one of the biggest mysteries in science and although we haven’t solved it yet, with this new data we’re one step closer.”
The DES began observations in 2013 with a state-of-the-art astronomical camera fixed on a four-metre aperture telescope in Chile.