Astronomers Create Largest Ever 3D Map of the Cosmos
You may have heard of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's Department of Energy. We reported on the project all the way back in 2016 when the team of scientists launched 5,000 small robots into space to help develop the first map of the universe beyond earth.
Then, in 2017, we reported how the project had created a 3D map of our galaxy’s space dust. The map was successful at plotting each individual dust that exists in our galaxy in order to clear up the deep space view and measure the accelerating expansion rate of the universe.
Now, DESI has revealed that it has finally created the largest and most detailed map of the universe ever. As impressive as this achievement is, DESI notes that it's only 10% done with its five-year mission.
“There is a lot of beauty to it,” said Berkeley Lab scientist Julien Guy. “In the distribution of the galaxies in the 3D map, there are huge clusters, filaments, and voids. They’re the biggest structures in the universe. But within them, you find an imprint of the very early universe, and the history of its expansion since then.”
DESI had to overcome many obstacles to produce this impressive achievement. During the coronavirus pandemic, the telescope had to be shut down and it was only in December 2020 that it could start to explore the sky again. Luckily, despite these issues, by May 2021 it was ready to start its science survey.
However, that wasn't the end of the DESI team's inputs to the telescope. “It’s constant work that goes on to this instrument perform,” concluded physicist Klaus Honscheid of Ohio State University, co-instrument scientist on the project. It is work that has paid off well providing a never-before-seen map that will one day help us understand the past and future of the universe.