Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope: Unlocking the secrets of dark matter and dark energy

01.06.2015

The director of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) joins an astrophysicist and a theoretical physicist in a discussion about how LSST will delve into the 'dark universe' by taking an unprecedentedly enormous scan of the sky

At a traditional stone-laying ceremony outside La Serena, Chile on April 14th, construction officially began of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). This ambitious international astrophysics project is slated to start scanning the heavens in 2022. When it does, LSST should open up the "dark universe" of dark matter and dark energy--the unseen substance and force, respectively, composing 95 percent of the universe's mass and energy--as never before.


This is an artist's rendering of the proposed architecture for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope at its site on the El Penon peak of Cerro Pachon in Chile.

Credit: LSST

On April 2, 2015, the Director of LSST, Steven Kahn, along with astrophysicist Sarah Bridle and theoretical physicist Hitoshi Murayama, spoke with The Kavli Foundation about how LSST's sweeping search for dark matter and dark energy will answer fundamental questions about our universe's make-up. In the process, LSST will help answer vexing questions about the universe's history and possibly reveal its ultimate fate.

"In terms of how much light it will collect and its field of view, LSST is about ten times bigger than any other survey telescope either planned or existing," said Kahn, the Cassius Lamb Kirk Professor in the Natural Sciences in the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology of Physics (KIPAC) at Stanford University.

LSST will feature an 8.4-meter diameter mirror and a 3.2 gigapixel camera, the biggest digital camera ever built. Every few days, the telescope will survey the entire Southern Hemisphere's sky, hauling in 30 terabytes of data nightly. After just its first month of operations, LSST's camera will have observed more of the universe than all previous astronomical surveys combined.

This capability to rake in data, extended over a ten-year observing run, will yield a staggering amount of astronomical information. The telescope should observe some 20 billion galaxies and many tens of thousands of supernovae. In addition, LSST will help map the stars composing the Milky Way and spy reams of asteroids passing near Earth.

The galaxy and supernova observations, along with other data, will offer some of the most stringent tests of dark matter and dark energy ever conducted. Solving the riddle of dark energy will not only deepen our understanding of our universe's past, but also sketch out its future.

"Dark energy is accelerating the expansion of the universe and ripping it apart," said Murayama, the Director of the Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the Universe (Kavli IPMU) at the University of Tokyo and a professor at the Berkeley Center for Theoretical Physics at the University of California, Berkeley. "The questions we are asking are: Where is the universe going? What is its fate? Is it getting completely ripped apart at some point? Does the universe end? Or does it go forever?"

Murayama continued: "To understand these questions, it's like trying to understand how quickly the population of a given country is aging. You can't understand the trend of where the country is going just by looking at a small number of people. You have to do a census of the entire population. In a similar way, you need to really look at a vast amount of galaxies so you can understand the trend of where the universe is going. We are taking a cosmic census with LSST."

To analyze this census, researchers will chiefly rely on a technique called gravitational lensing. Foreground galaxies and their associated dark matter gravitationally bend the light streaming from background galaxies in an observable, measureable way. Gauging this gravitational lensing distortion in LSST's vast image collection will speak to the strength of dark energy, which is accelerating the expansion of the history, at different times in cosmic history.

"With the data, we're going to be able to make a three-dimensional map of the dark matter in the universe using gravitational lensing," said Bridle, a professor of astrophysics in the Extragalactic Astronomy and Cosmology research group of the Jodrell Bank Center for Astrophysics in the School of Physics and Astronomy at The University of Manchester. "Then we're going to use that to tell us about how the 'clumpiness' of the universe is changing with time, which is going to tell us about dark energy."

###

Read the full conversation with Kahn, Bridle and Murayama on The Kavli Foundation website: http://www.kavlifoundation.org/science-spotlights/delving-dark-universe-large-synoptic-survey-telescope

James Cohen | EurekAlert!

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect
24.05.2017 | Vienna University of Technology

nachricht Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect
24.05.2017 | University of Cologne

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: A quantum walk of photons

Physicists from the University of Würzburg are capable of generating identical looking single light particles at the push of a button. Two new studies now demonstrate the potential this method holds.

The quantum computer has fuelled the imagination of scientists for decades: It is based on fundamentally different phenomena than a conventional computer....

Im Focus: Turmoil in sluggish electrons’ existence

An international team of physicists has monitored the scattering behaviour of electrons in a non-conducting material in real-time. Their insights could be beneficial for radiotherapy.

We can refer to electrons in non-conducting materials as ‘sluggish’. Typically, they remain fixed in a location, deep inside an atomic composite. It is hence...

Im Focus: Wafer-thin Magnetic Materials Developed for Future Quantum Technologies

Two-dimensional magnetic structures are regarded as a promising material for new types of data storage, since the magnetic properties of individual molecular building blocks can be investigated and modified. For the first time, researchers have now produced a wafer-thin ferrimagnet, in which molecules with different magnetic centers arrange themselves on a gold surface to form a checkerboard pattern. Scientists at the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel and the Paul Scherrer Institute published their findings in the journal Nature Communications.

Ferrimagnets are composed of two centers which are magnetized at different strengths and point in opposing directions. Two-dimensional, quasi-flat ferrimagnets...

Im Focus: World's thinnest hologram paves path to new 3-D world

Nano-hologram paves way for integration of 3-D holography into everyday electronics

An Australian-Chinese research team has created the world's thinnest hologram, paving the way towards the integration of 3D holography into everyday...

Im Focus: Using graphene to create quantum bits

In the race to produce a quantum computer, a number of projects are seeking a way to create quantum bits -- or qubits -- that are stable, meaning they are not much affected by changes in their environment. This normally needs highly nonlinear non-dissipative elements capable of functioning at very low temperatures.

In pursuit of this goal, researchers at EPFL's Laboratory of Photonics and Quantum Measurements LPQM (STI/SB), have investigated a nonlinear graphene-based...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

AWK Aachen Machine Tool Colloquium 2017: Internet of Production for Agile Enterprises

23.05.2017 | Event News

Dortmund MST Conference presents Individualized Healthcare Solutions with micro and nanotechnology

22.05.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Physicists discover mechanism behind granular capillary effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Measured for the first time: Direction of light waves changed by quantum effect

24.05.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Marine Conservation: IASS Contributes to UN Ocean Conference in New York on 5-9 June

24.05.2017 | Event News

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>