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Largest ever 3-D map of the universe created

We’re part of an international team that has helped to create the most detailed 3-D map of the universe ever.

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) has capped off the first seven months of its survey run by smashing through all previous records for three-dimensional galaxy surveys.

Durham is a key partner of DESI and helped design and build the new telescope instrument.

Although it is already producing unprecedented outcomes, DESI is only about ten per cent through its five-year mission.

Dark energy
Once completed, its phenomenally detailed 3-D map will give scientists a better understanding of dark energy – the mysterious substance that accounts for 70 per cent of the content in the universe and is speeding up its expansion.

This will help scientists determine if the universe will expand forever, collapse in on itself in a reverse Big Bang or rip itself apart.

DESI features new optics that increase the telescope’s field of view and include 5,000 robotically controlled optical fibres.

Led by Durham, the fibre-optic system will split light from objects in space such as galaxies, quasars and stars into narrow bands of colour and reveal the chemical make-up of objects as well as information about how far away they are and how fast they are travelling.

DESI is also helping our scientists reveal the secrets of quasars, a particularly bright variety of galaxies that are among the most powerful and distant objects known.

The instrument’s data will go 11 billion years back in time, revealing clues about the evolution of quasars and their connection to the formation of galaxies.”

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