A modified telescope in Arizona is part of a five-year mission to create the most comprehensive map of the universe.
Researchers from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California and scientists from around the globe have been working on the project for less than a year, but have already made the largest ever 3D map of the universe.
They are using a Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) installed on the Mayall telescope housed at the Kitt Peak National Observatory to map the universe, and hope to uncover more information about our universe’s fate by doing so.
The aim is that the largest map of the universe ever created will give scientists a better understanding of dark energy, the force behind the expansion of the universe, Space.com reports.
The new map will record the location of more than 7.5 million galaxies, with each one containing approximately 100 billion to a trillion stars within it.
Our universe has been expanding ever since the Big Bang roughly 13.8 billion years ago, and is estimated to be 92 billion light years wide.
The phrase ‘dark energy’ comes from scientists witnessing the phenomenon that the universe isn’t just expanding at a constant rate, it’s actually accelerating.
It is estimated that dark energy makes up around 70% of all energy in the universe, and the effects it has will determine the fate of the universe, be that expanding forever, ripping itself apart or collapsing in on itself like a reverse Big Bang.
Julien Guy, a physicist at Berkeley Lab who is working on the project, said: ‘There is a lot of beauty to it. In the distribution of the galaxies in the 3D map, there are huge clusters, filaments and voids.
‘They’re the biggest structures of the universe, but within them, you find an imprint of the very early universe and the history of its expansion since then.’
Researchers hope that by studying the dark energy more closely, an idea of the fate of our universe will become clear.
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