New camera helps recreate 3D map of the sky to study dark energy

It's part of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI).
Loukia Papadopoulos
The Yale Fiberview Camera.jpg
The Yale Fiberview Camera.

The Wright Lab 

Scientists at the Wright Lab have created the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) to generate a 3D map of the sky that will allow researchers to measure the effects of dark energy on the expansion of the universe. Now, a team at Wright Lab has developed the Yale Fiberview Camera to serve as an integral part of the efficiency and precision of DESI.

“DESI recently released 80 terabytes of data from the experiment’s “survey validation” phase that includes nearly two million objects, including distant galaxies and quasars as well as stars in our own Milky Way,” noted a press release by the Wright Lab published last week. 

“The data has already led to a set of papers, which include early measurements of galaxy clustering, studies of rare objects, and descriptions of the instrument and survey operations; as well as showing DESI’s ability to accomplish its design goals.”

“The fact that DESI works so well, and that the amount of science-grade data it took during survey validation is comparable to previous completed sky surveys, is a monumental achievement,” said Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille, co-spokesperson for DESI and a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), which manages the experiment. 

“This milestone shows that DESI is a unique spectroscopic factory whose data will not only allow the study of dark energy but will also be coveted by the whole scientific community to address other topics, such as dark matter, gravitational lensing, and galactic morphology.”

DESI consists of 5,000 robotic positioners that move optical fibers and capture light from objects millions or billions of light-years away. This ability makes it the most powerful multi-object survey spectrograph in the world.

It has the unique ability to to measure light from more than 100,000 galaxies in one night, allowing it to build a 3D cosmic map.

What does DESI’s Yale Fiberview Camera do?

The precise instrument helps provide feedback for the robotic positioners so they can be precisely positioned in a very short amount of time, enabling the efficiency of the whole system.

“The Wright Lab team also engineered and built self-illuminated light sources that are mixed in with the fibers in the DESI focal plane. These are used to calibrate the Fiberview Camera  and to relate its fiber measurements to on-sky target coordinates,” further noted the press release.

“Yale’s Fiberview Camera is a vital part of the DESI spectrograph. None of the 5,000 fibers in the spectrograph would move on target without the camera. So it is partly the engineering and research efforts at Yale that have made DESI a success,” concluded in the statement David Rabinowitz, senior research scientist in physics at the Wright Lab.