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Video

巡天遥看一千河

地球相对于天空来说,约每24小时自转一周。地球上的我们也因此做到了“巡天”的旋转木马上。

每到傍晚,离我们最近的恒星,太阳,就会撤走遮天幕地的光芒。呈现给我们的将是一闪一闪宛如跳舞般的星光——那些古老遥远的星系和星星遍布了整个夜空。傍晚之后的几个小时给予我们机会细致观察笼罩着地球的点点星光,直到天色微曦,我们再次沐浴到阳光下。白天的时候,满天星斗依然存在,但强烈的阳光让我们几无可能观察到它们。一直到夕阳西下,那些跳舞般闪亮的星系和星星准时回到夜幕这张大舞台上,星空再次出现。

我们的整个太阳系都是银河星系的一部分。银河系呈盘状,其中的星星和气体物质又组成了银心和旋臂。我们的地球作为附属于太阳的一个淡蓝色小点,住在银河系的郊区,银盘的二分之一处。当地球日复一日的自转时,银河系也在缓慢的旋转,但银河系的旋转周期要比地球长的多。

在天空日复一日,夜复一夜的旋转中,银河系的平面也和其他星系、星星一起一遍遍经过我们上方的天空。当我们从伸手不见五指的帕穹山(Cerro Pachon)山顶向天空望去的时候,我们可以看到银河系的平面,看到银河系中心所在的方向。

在本页的视频中,相机经南由东向西移动,整晚每隔三十秒进行一次拍摄。地球的自转轴经过南极点,所以我们可以看到天空绕着向南的方向旋转:银河系的一边先落下,然后在这个十月凌晨一点的时候,另一边开始升起。

晚上好,欢迎和我们一起,“巡天”遥看一千河。

作者:暗能量侦探 B · 诺德 (B. Nord)

视频制作:暗能量侦探 · 诺德 (B. Nord)

翻译:暗能量侦探 张Y Y. Zhang

翻译编辑:暗能量侦探 李T T. Li

备注:

  1. 本博文引用的视频设制于帕穹山。其时,作者正在使用双子南座望远镜(坐落于帕穹山,Cerro Pachon)为暗能量巡天所发现的伴有强引力透镜现象的星系团进行后续观测,并非用布兰科望远镜(托洛洛山,Cerro Tololo)进行暗能量巡天项目的直接观测。 帕穹山和 托洛洛山的地理位置极其接近。
  2. 翻译的博文标题取自毛泽东《送瘟神》。
Video

Dancing in the dark

 

“Work like you don’t need the money. Love like you’ve never been hurt. Dance like nobody’s watching.”–Satchel Paige

To the silent tune of gravity, congeries of celestial objects – big and small – dance each night away. In the darkness beyond Neptune, this troupe of Kuiper Belt objects (KBOs) had been dancing like no one was watching – until now.

Their dance is a slow one, for Kuiper Belt objects take centuries to complete one orbit. These KBOs, each a few hundred kilometers in size, have been discovered by DES over the last two and a half years. (One of them was described here earlier.) Suppose you knew nothing about gravity. What would you make of a pattern like this? How would you explain it? The laws that give rise to such intricate celestial swirls must be incredibly complicated, right?

Ancient people marked the wanderings of the planets from night to night and season to season. They noticed that they moved across the sky at wildly different rates: sometimes, they appeared to stop, turn around, and move backwards against the canopy of fixed stars, before turning again and resuming their course. Ingenious models were developed to explain this complicated dance. But they became increasingly unwieldy, and even worse, failed to describe new and more accurate observations.

It took two scientific revolutions—first from Copernicus and then from Newton—to show that planetary motion could be readily explained by a single simple equation, the law of gravitation. The hidden pattern suddenly became clear.

The graceful pirouette executed by a KBOs arises from a combination of two motions. Its centuries-long orbit produces a slow eastward drift that carries it about the width of one DECam field of view per year. But we observe these objects from a moving platform, planet Earth. As the earth makes its journey around the sun, we observe the KBO from different perspectives, sometimes from 150 million kilometers on one side of the sun, six months later from 150 million kilometers on the other, and at other times from somewhere in between. This results in an annual back-and-forth motion relative to the distant stars that’s superimposed on the KBO’s own orbital motion. Watch how your fingertip moves against background objects when you move your head from side to side and you’ll get the idea.

Physics aims to distill order from complexity, to explain the vast array of natural phenomena with a small number of simple laws. Eventually, physicists learned that Newton’s law of gravitation fell short in certain situations and needed to be superceded by Einstein’s theory of general relativity.

Today, gravity confronts our generation with a new puzzle on the grandest of scales: Why is the expansion of the universe accelerating? Perhaps some new law will explain the mystery of dark energy with the as much elegance and simplicity as the dance of the planets. That’s the hope that keeps our dark energy detectives patiently looking up.

 

Det. Dave Gerdes [University of Michigan]

 

Video

Cosmic soup for the soul

 

Amidst the dark forces and energies at work across the cosmos, a fire brews, a soup simmers.

The expansion history of the Universe is dominated by dark matter and dark energy. However, it is the elements in the periodic table that allow us to study and understand that history. In this posting we give a flavor for how the cosmic soup of elements came into existence.

Almost all the elements came into existence within 30 minutes of the Big Bang. The resulting broth was rather dull: 9 hydrogen nuclei (one proton) to every helium nucleus (two protons) and almost nothing of anything else. Even if you sifted through a billion nuclei you’d still be lucky enough to find anything as tasty as lithium (three protons).

Fortunately, over the intervening 13.7 billion years, the cosmic soup has become a little more interesting. Nuclear fusion – so hard to reproduce on Earth – is common place in stars: we have fusion to thank for the carbon in our cells, to the iron in our blood.

The flavor, density and temperature of the element soup varies widely. Consider our own Solar system: from the extreme pressures and temperatures inside the Sun’s core, to the cold and empty space between the planets. These variations are replicated throughout the Milky Way and in all the other galaxies in the universe.

These three concepts – that most elements were formed just after the Big Bang; that a smattering of heavier elements have been added since then; and that the elements are distributed non-uniformly – are of great benefit to the Dark Energy Survey.

Take for example clusters of galaxies, like those in the slideshow above (described in more detail later). These structures are so enormous that they can be considered to be mini Universes in their own right. Clusters contain several dozen galaxies, and sometimes as may as several hundred. In between the galaxies is the continuous haze of tenuous gas.

Both the gas and the galaxies are trapped within the confines of the cluster by dark matter. The dark matter acts like the lid on a sauce pan, where the lid stops the pan boiling dry, the dark matter stops the galaxies – which are moving at more than a million miles per hour – from flying away. However, at the outer edges of the very largest clusters, dark energy competes with gravity and the galaxies are starting to be peeled away. It is this interplay of gravity and dark energy that make clusters such useful cosmological probes.

The particles in the gas are so hot that electrons (negatively charged) and nuclei (positively charged) are stripped apart – this form of gas is known as a plasma. The plasma shines brightly in the X-ray part of the electromagnetic spectrum and can be detected by satellites such as XMM-Newton and Chandra. The plasma also casts a shadow on the Cosmic Microwave Background (a pulse of light that was emitted throughout the Universe one hundred thousands years after the Big Bang), meaning it can also be detected with shortwave radio telescopes such as the South Pole Telescope.

By contrast, the elements trapped in the stars are cooler, and at much higher densities, and shine in visible light. Starlight allows the Dark Energy Survey to not only to detect hundreds of thousands of clusters, but also to measure their distances (via a technique known as photometric redshifts), and to make a first estimate of their masses. Those masses need to be refined before we can use the clusters for cosmology, and information of the plasma from X-ray and radio telescopes is essential for that.

In the slideshow above we show several examples of the hundreds of Dark Energy Survey clusters that have also been observed by the XMM-Newton Cluster Survey. The intensity of the X-ray emission coming from the hot plasma is indicated by the red contours. X-ray specialists are working with these two datasets to calibrate the masses of Dark Energy Survey clusters.

Finally… why “for the soul”? Well “soul’’ happens to be a synonym for “quintessence”, and Quintessence has been widely adopted by cosmologists as a catch all term to describe theories that allow for a time variation in the properties of Dark Energy.

 

Det. Kathy Romer [University of Sussex]

Image Credit: Det.’s Phil Rooney [University of Sussex] and Chris Miller [University of Michigan]

Image

Our dark, tangled web: Clues of dark energy

DES0006-4123_20141218_00_gri_20141219_000.edit1.0_950pxLurking beneath a sea of light, an intricate pattern rustles and changes ever so slowly. It is built from dark, and nearly invisible, cosmic forces. Amidst the clumps and knots of galaxies lay empty, usually fallow spaces. While each galaxy, with its billions of stars, has a unique story of birth and evolution, we don’t miss the forest for the trees. Taken as a whole, the pattern of clusters and voids in our galaxy maps can tell us about the dark forces that shape our universe.

Sloan Digital Sky Survey: Galaxy Map

Mapping of galaxies by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey out to 2 billion light-years away. Red and green points indicate positions of galaxies, with red points having a larger density of galaxies. The fully black areas on the sides are parts of the sky inaccessible to the survey. (See also the SDSS fly-through.)

Looking at the image from the Dark Energy Camera (above), we can see a plethora of celestial objects, including many blue, red and yellow smudges, many of which are distant galaxies. It may appear that these galaxies are randomly strewn about the cosmos. However, astronomers charting the locations of these galaxies across large distances have found that galaxies are organized into structures, into cosmic patterns that can span swaths of space and time much larger than what is seen in this image. The figure on the right, from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, shows a map of millions of galaxies. These galaxies appear to cluster into knots and filaments (areas with many galaxies), and leave behind voids (areas with few or no galaxies). Some filamentary structures stretch across a billion light-years  – 60 trillion times the distance from the Earth to the Sun!

Like any good detective, we cannot ignore a pattern. How do galaxies, separated by up to billions of light-years, eventually coalesce into the great cosmic structures we see today? It turns out the ‘mastermind’ of this cosmic operation is a familiar friend (and foe) to us on Earth: the force of gravity.

Using computer simulations, astronomers have investigated how gravity acts among so many galaxies over such very large distances. The Millennium Simulation, and others like it, show that a mostly random distribution of matter will naturally cluster into filaments and voids through the force of gravity. When we statistically compare the simulation results to our data (observations of many galaxies), the patterns are the same: gravity’s influence throughout the visible universe has fostered this grand filamentary structure, which has been dubbed, “The Cosmic Web.”

Millennium simulation: http://www.mpa-garching.mpg.de/galform/virgo/millennium/seqB_063a_half.jpg

The Millennium Simulation: brighter areas are where more matter and galaxies have concentrated. (See more of this simulation in this fly-through video).

 

What does this mean for the detectives working on the Dark Energy Survey? It turns out that gravity has a nemesis in its goal for creating web-like order across the universe: dark energy, the invisible force causing the accelerated expansion of space throughout the universe. The faster space grows and accelerates, the greater the distances galaxies must travel to form filaments and clusters. If there is more dark energy, gravity needs more time to pull galaxies together, and web-like structure develops slowly. If there is no dark energy, the web gets built quickly. By studying how quickly or slowly the cosmic web was built across time, we learn how strong dark energy has been and if it is growing stronger or weaker.

The battle between gravity and dark energy, manifested in the evolving structure of the cosmic web, is a key way to study dark energy. In fact, the cosmic web is particularly important for answering one specific question: is there even dark energy at all?!

Most astronomers agree that there is overwhelming evidence for the accelerated expansion of the universe. For many reasons, the most plausible source of this acceleration is some new force or otherwise unseen, “dark” energy. The leading alternative theory though is a change in the laws of gravity (specifically, in Einstein’s laws of general relativity). Since physicists and astronomers have tested Einstein’s laws numerous times on Earth, the Solar System, and within galaxies, the change would only manifest itself at much larger distance scales. It could be causing the appearance of cosmic acceleration, such that there might be no dark energy.

This second hypothesis would re-write our case file on the cosmic web. Perhaps instead of fighting against dark energy, gravity is just not carrying quite the influence across billions of light years that we’ve predicted. Measurements of the cosmic web, in conjunction with other measures of cosmic acceleration, will be key in telling us whether our universe is a battleground for dark energy and gravity, or if gravity is just different than previously thought. Either conclusion (or perhaps an even stranger one!) would signify a fundamental revision in how we think about the workings of our universe.

As the Dark Energy Survey collects more beautiful images of hundreds of millions of galaxies over a five-year span, our detectives will be carefully logging their positions, charting out the cosmic web, hoping to identify what forces are at work in the dark.

Detective Ross Cawthon (University of Chicago)

Image: Det.’s Marty Murphy and Reidar Hahn

Image

Our dark, tangled web: Where’s Waldo?

DES0428-33_6122_20141105_43

Cosmic structures woven together during the tug of war between gravity and dark energy present a multi-faceted challenge for scientists, as we seek to untangle each galaxy from the luminous cacophony of filaments and clusters across large swaths of space and time.

We love staring at the beautiful images taken by the Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at the Blanco telescope. The image above shows a cluster of galaxies laid on a backdrop of even more distant galaxies. To investigate the mysteries of the accelerating expansion, Dark Energy Survey (DES) scientists need to do a bit more – we need to develop a comprehensive census of the content across the universe: how many stars and galaxies are there in a given swatch of space-time fabric?

A critical step comes in creating a high-fidelity and detailed list of the observed celestial objects: these are called “catalogs” by astrophysicists and astronomers. The most common pieces of information are the position and brightness: this is the minimum information necessary to know where a galaxy resides in spacetime. 

With our hard-working scientists in the data management team and the powerful computers at National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), DES has developed new algorithms and pipelines for efficiently sifting the objects out of our images. We start with raw images straight from DECam, and then we refine them to remove artifacts, like satellite trails, cosmic rays and faulty pixels. From these “reduced” images, we must then find and characterize discrete objects, like galaxies and stars – cut the wheat from the chaff.

However, there is a limit to what we can do. For example, a very far-away object may appear extremely small and faint – so faint that it will look like a piece of the sky and get missed during the cataloging procedure. In some cases, it is not possible to tell the difference between a faint object and a noisy patch of sky. In addition, not every astronomical object is “willing” to be cataloged: it can be disguised as a part of another object. For example, near the center of today’s image,  there is a very large, bright galaxy with many smaller neighbors. Discerning all the objects here is similar to the difficulty one might have in noticing a flea in a picture of an elephant.

Objects also tend to hide from the computers when a piece of the sky is full of them: spotting a small object becomes as difficult as finding Waldo (Wally) on a crowded beach!

DES takes more detailed images than previous projects, like the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS). Thus, we are more pestered by the “hiding” objects problem. We see a more tangled web. As one solution, a group of DES scientists have employed an image restoration algorithm, derived from work by computer vision scientists. This algorithm successfully eliminates the impact of close neighbors when cataloging the “hiding” objects. Upon application to DES images, they have been able to find many “Waldos,” so we can add them to DES catalogs.

For more detailed description of the method, you can find a preprint of the paper here: http://arxiv.org/abs/1409.2885.

Det.’s Yuanyuan Zhang and B. Nord

Image: Det.’s Marty Murphy and Reidar Hahn

Image

A traves del mundo, observando toda la noche

DES2018-5248_RGB.Neb.crop.edit2.3.1000-px

Durante la pasada semana, los detectives del Dark Energy Survey (DES) provenientes de cuatro continentes se han reunido para sacar a la luz más pruebas de cómo el tejido del espacio-tiempo se está estirando y evolucionando.

Más de 100 detectives se reunieron en Sussex, Inglaterra, para discutir el estado actual y el futuro del proyecto que se lleva a cabo en el telescopio Blanco, ubicado en Cerro Tololo en Chile. En esta reunión semestral de la colaboración (que se celebra en una sede distinta cada vez), trabajamos en la creación de estrategias de análisis para los diversos métodos de estudio de la evolución del espacio-tiempo y la energía oscura. Mientras escribo estas líneas, los primeros resultados se están preparando para su publicación.

Mientras, en Cerro Tololo, un equipo de observadores opera la Cámara de Energía Oscura (DECam) en el telescopio Blanco, a medida que progresamos en la segunda temporada de observación del muestreo. Cada una de estas temporadas va de agosto a febrero, coincidiendo con el verano chileno.

El Telescopio Anglo-Australiano en el Observatorio de Siding Spring en Australia es la sede de OzDES: un proyecto a largo plazo para la obtención de medidas de distancia muy precisas de los objetos descubiertos por DES, tales como cúmulos de galaxias y supernovas. Estas medidas “de seguimiento” constituyen pruebas muy importantes para dilucidar la naturaleza de la energía oscura .

Y en Cerro Pachón, justo al este de Cerro Tololo, otro equipo compuesto por dos agentes comenzó a buscar evidencias de zonas del espacio con una gran curvatura en el cosmos distante, utilizando el Telescopio Gemini Sur (@GeminiObs). Pasamos seis noches trabajando en la medida de distancias muy precisas a sistemas con las llamadas “lentes gravitacionales fuertes”. Estos sistemas están constituidos por galaxias y grupos de galaxias que son lo suficientemente masivos como para distorsionar significativamente el tejido del espacio-tiempo. Espacio y tiempo se deforman tanto, que los rayos de luz que proviene de los objetos celestes – como galaxias y cuásares – que se encuentran detrás de estas galaxias masivas, se curvan significativamente a su paso por estos sistemas. Las imágenes resultantes en DECam se estiran o incluso multiplican – al igual que en una lente óptica. En futuros informes ampliaremos los detalles sobre este fenómeno.

Al mismo tiempo, las supercomputadoras del Centro Nacional para Aplicaciones de Supercomputación estadounidense (NCSA) procesan los datos de DECam cada noche, convirtiendo las imágenes en bruto en datos “refinados” – listos para ser analizados por los equipos científicos .

La imagen de arriba no muestra ninguna lente gravitacional fuerte obvia, pero constituye un ejemplo de la calidad de la “evidencia” que genera DES para sus detectives todas las noches.

Abajo os incluimos las posiciones de algunas de las galaxias que véis arriba. ¿Qué información podéis encontrar acerca de ellas? Existen varias herramientas electrónicas “forenses” que os pueden ayudar en vuestra investigación (por ejemplo,  http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/forms/nearposn.html , tened cuidado de introducir las coordenadas en el formato correcto, como se muestra más abajo). Podéis tuitear vuestros hallazgos en @darkenergdetec, y así comparar nuestras notas.

RA: 304.3226d,    Dec: -52.7966d

RA: 304.2665d,    Dec: -52.6728d

RA: 304.0723d,     Dec: -52.7044d

 

Buenas noches, y no dejéis de mirar al cielo.

 

Det B. Nord

Imagen: Det M. Murphy

Traducción: Nacho Sevilla Noarbe

 

Video

Virando a noite mundo afora

DES2018-5248_RGB.Neb.crop.edit2.3.1000-px

Semana passada, detetives do DES fizeram ações coordenadas em vários continentes para reunir evidências de como o tecido do espaço-tempo está se expandindo.

Em Sussex, Inglaterra, cerca de 100 detetives se encontraram para discutir o estado atual e futuro do levantamento sendo conduzido no telescópio Blanco, localizado em Cerro Tololo, Chile. Nesse encontro semestral da colaboração (sempre em um lugar diferente), continuamos a planejar novas estratégias para “enquadrar” a evolução do espaço-tempo e energia escura: na verdade, enquanto escrevo essas linhas, vários resultados preliminares estão se preparando para vir a público.

Enquanto isso em Cerro Tololo, um time de observadores operava a Câmera da Energia Escura (DECam) no telescópio Blanco, caminhando em direção ao fim da segunda temporada de observações do levantamento. Cada temporada vai de Agosto a Fevereiro, aproveitando o verão Chileno.

No Telescópio Anglo-Australiano no Observatório Siding Spring na Australia, temos o lar do Levantamento OzDES – um projeto para obter medidas de distâncias altamente precisas de objetos descobertos pelo DES, tais como supernovas e aglomerados de galáxias. Essas “diligências” fora do DES são importantes para ajudar a montar o perfil da energia escura.

Já em Cerro Pachon, ao lado de Cerro Tololo, dois agentes começaram a procurar por evidências de desvios no espaço-tempo, usando o Telescópio Gemini Sul (@GeminiObs). Foram seis noites de trabalho para medir com grande acurácia a distância de sistemas de lentes gravitacionais fortes. Esses sistemas são galáxias ou grupos de galáxias que tem massa o suficiente para distorcer o tecido do espaço-tempo. A distorção é tão grande que raios de luz provenientes de galáxias e quasares que estão atrás desses sistemas se curvam. O resultado em imagens da DECam é a aparição de múltiplas fontes ou fontes distorcidas, tal qual em uma lente óptica. Nos próximos relatórios apresentaremos mais detalhes sobre essas evidências.

Nesse meio tempo, supercomputadores do Centro Nacional de Aplicações de Supercomputação (NCSA) estão processando na calada da noite (e do dia) os dados da DECam, transformando imagens em dados refinados – prontos para a análise dos times científicos.

A imagem acima não mostra nenhuma forte evidência de lentes fortes, mas é um exemplo do exemplar conjunto de evidências que o DES continua a acumular a cada noite.

Eis as posições de algumas das galáxias acima. Que informações você pode levantar sobre elas? Existem várias ferramentas na internet que podem te auxiliar nessa investigação (por exemplo, http://ned.ipac.caltech.edu/forms/nearposn.html; tome cuidado com o formato das posições ao entrar, use como abaixo). Tuíte seus achados para nossos agentes em @darkenergdetec, e podemos comparar nossas anotações.

RA: 304.3226d,    Dec: -52.7966d

RA: 304.2665d,    Dec: -52.6728d

RA: 304.0723d,     Dec: -52.7044d

 

Boa noite, e olho vivo,
Det B. Nord

Imagen: Det M. Murphy

Tradução: Det. Ricardo Ogando

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