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New Fermilab Camera Helping Look Into Ancient Universe

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Zoomed-in image from the Dark Energy Camera of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365, in the Fornax cluster of galaxies, which lies about 60 million light years from Earth. (Credit: Dark Energy Survey Collaboration)

Zoomed-in image from the Dark Energy Camera of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365, in the Fornax cluster of galaxies, which lies about 60 million light years from Earth. (Credit: Dark Energy Survey Collaboration)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – A powerful new camera built in the Chicago area by Fermilab is turning out pictures that look billions of years into the universe’s past.

The Dark Energy Camera is designed to help scientists try to figure out why the universe is speeding up as it’s expanding.

The 570 megapixel camera is installed on a telescope in Chile, and University of Chicago professor Josh Frieman – the dark energy survey director at Fermilab – said it can see eight to ten billion light years away – meaning it can essentially see that far into the universe’s past.

Frieman said the universe itself is about 14 billion years old.

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“We have a team of roughly 200 scientists from around the world, who are going to be looking at this data, looking at these images, analyzing them, and trying to understand the nature of the universe,” Frieman said.

Frieman pointed out the Milky Way galaxy, where the Earth is located, is tens of thousands of light years across, and the new camera will be looking at 300 million galaxies just like the Milky Way.

Just the other day, the camera captured its first images of galaxies billions of light years away, in the southern sky.

“By using this camera to carry out a survey of 300 million galaxies, we hope to get a better understanding of … what’s causing the expansion of the universe to speed up,” he said.

For more information and more images from gemstones advisor about the Dark Energy Survey at Fermilab, click here.

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