We know that the universe is constantly expanding. But only recently, scientists have discovered that this process is also steadily increasing in speed. The creation of a powerful new telescope being installed on a mountain in Chile could help to explain this process further as well as the energy causing it, and beyond all of that, it will likely change how we understand the very dynamics of the universe.

“Dark energy” is what scientists call this force which is causing the universe to expand. It’s an energy which interacts with gravity, which is not particularly dense, and one that’s scattered homogeneously across the cosmos. We know too that if all of the forces and dynamics making up the universe were added up, dark energy would add a further 68.3% to that grand total.

Relatively recent theories on dark energy and its nature have begun to align with previous assumptions about the dynamics of the cosmos. The existence of dark energy explains the speed of the rotation of galaxies and could lead us to understand the age of the universe more accurately. Up through today, we still don’t know much about this;  prior to the discovery of this particular class of energy, scientists began to find stars which were older than the universe, a sign that previous calculations had been imprecise.

The importance of many of these newer discoveries led scientists and institutions from 23 different countries to come together to develop a marvelous machine: the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Essentially, a gigantic digital camera, it’s capable of capturing the light from billions of galaxies, each millions of light years away from Earth. It may also help us to better understand where this dark energy is, and the nature of its behavior.

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The exploration of the cosmos began centuries ago with the first observations of the sky -even prior to the telescope, for example, those made by the eccentric Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe. But it was in 1920 that Edwin Hubble changed our perception of the universe, using what was then the most powerful telescope in the world. He used it to observe and describe nebula within numerous galaxies, millions of light years away from our own. By the 1970s, scientists were developing technologies to capture the light of the universe in digital images. These techniques resulted in the spectacular images of the universe that we enjoy today.

Today scientists use many incredibly powerful telescopes but, as Atlas Obscura points out, the launch of the LSST promises to take things a step further. On a starry night, observing the night sky, the human eye can perceive about 2,500 stars. This new telescope will be able to perceive a billion. The field of vision of this prodigious device is only about the size of a dime; each of its tiny photographs will show about a million galaxies, an overwhelming capacity that can’t but remind us of our own true size within the universe.

The LSST is set to begin operating in 2020. When that happens, it will spend ten years capturing images of the sky, over and over again. Every night, for 3,000 nights, the telescope will take a thousand photographs of each small segment of the sky. With the information gathered, scientists will be able know much more about dark energy, the force making the galaxies surrounding ours move apart faster and faster. It will also fill the gaps in current theories about gravity. Furthermore, these exciting studies will transform our understanding of the nature of time, space, matter, and all of the forces that make our universe work and function the way it does.

2-2 
 

 

Images: 1) Public Domain 2) Large Synoptic Survey Telescope 3) Large Synoptic Survey Telescope

We know that the universe is constantly expanding. But only recently, scientists have discovered that this process is also steadily increasing in speed. The creation of a powerful new telescope being installed on a mountain in Chile could help to explain this process further as well as the energy causing it, and beyond all of that, it will likely change how we understand the very dynamics of the universe.

“Dark energy” is what scientists call this force which is causing the universe to expand. It’s an energy which interacts with gravity, which is not particularly dense, and one that’s scattered homogeneously across the cosmos. We know too that if all of the forces and dynamics making up the universe were added up, dark energy would add a further 68.3% to that grand total.

Relatively recent theories on dark energy and its nature have begun to align with previous assumptions about the dynamics of the cosmos. The existence of dark energy explains the speed of the rotation of galaxies and could lead us to understand the age of the universe more accurately. Up through today, we still don’t know much about this;  prior to the discovery of this particular class of energy, scientists began to find stars which were older than the universe, a sign that previous calculations had been imprecise.

The importance of many of these newer discoveries led scientists and institutions from 23 different countries to come together to develop a marvelous machine: the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). Essentially, a gigantic digital camera, it’s capable of capturing the light from billions of galaxies, each millions of light years away from Earth. It may also help us to better understand where this dark energy is, and the nature of its behavior.

1-4 
The exploration of the cosmos began centuries ago with the first observations of the sky -even prior to the telescope, for example, those made by the eccentric Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe. But it was in 1920 that Edwin Hubble changed our perception of the universe, using what was then the most powerful telescope in the world. He used it to observe and describe nebula within numerous galaxies, millions of light years away from our own. By the 1970s, scientists were developing technologies to capture the light of the universe in digital images. These techniques resulted in the spectacular images of the universe that we enjoy today.

Today scientists use many incredibly powerful telescopes but, as Atlas Obscura points out, the launch of the LSST promises to take things a step further. On a starry night, observing the night sky, the human eye can perceive about 2,500 stars. This new telescope will be able to perceive a billion. The field of vision of this prodigious device is only about the size of a dime; each of its tiny photographs will show about a million galaxies, an overwhelming capacity that can’t but remind us of our own true size within the universe.

The LSST is set to begin operating in 2020. When that happens, it will spend ten years capturing images of the sky, over and over again. Every night, for 3,000 nights, the telescope will take a thousand photographs of each small segment of the sky. With the information gathered, scientists will be able know much more about dark energy, the force making the galaxies surrounding ours move apart faster and faster. It will also fill the gaps in current theories about gravity. Furthermore, these exciting studies will transform our understanding of the nature of time, space, matter, and all of the forces that make our universe work and function the way it does.

2-2 
 

 

Images: 1) Public Domain 2) Large Synoptic Survey Telescope 3) Large Synoptic Survey Telescope