State News
7:01 am
Fri September 6, 2013

U of I to research "Dark Energy"

University of Illinois researchers will have a role in what’s being called the largest survey of galaxies ever attempted.   IPR'S Jeff Bossert has more:

The U of I’s physics department helped to build the world’s largest digital camera to research ‘Dark Energy’ or the theory that the universe is not only expanding, but accelerating.  Data from camera images will be examined by the U of I’s National Center for Supercomputing Applications.  

The camera will be mounted within a telescope in the Andes Mountains in Chile. The Dark Energy Survey involves more than 200 scientists.

U of I Physics professor John Thaler says that research includes supernovas, or an explosive destruction of a star caused by its own gravity… as well as the rate at which structures form:

“Because way back in the early universe, there were no stars and galaxies.  It was a more-or-less homogenous plasma.  As the universe aged, you started having high-density regions - basically due to the gravitational attraction.  Things attract each other,  and they fall together, and you start getting clumps of gas, and they form stars, and stuff like that.”

The 5-year effort to map the southern sky also involves Fermilab National Laboratory in Batavia, where the camera was built.   It’s expected to involve images of 300 million galaxies.