A 45-year-old telescope in Arizona is getting a major overhaul that could allow it to help unravel the secrets to the universe.
Scientists are making a gigantic upgrade to the 4-meter Mayall telescope located at Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona that will allow it to potentially unlock the secrets of the universe by studying dark energy. The Mayall telescope has been in use for 45 years as a general research telescope, but authorities are beginning work on an addition that would involve installed the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) that can examine the spectra of 30 million galaxies.
Construction began on Monday and will likely take about a year, and then the telescope will be used to peer deep into the universe and take extensive measurements on dark energy that could help us better understand the universe’s expansion rate. By understanding this, we might be able to figure out the Big Bang and the nature of existence itself, so this is no small project.
Scientists had long thought that the universe expanded at a constant rate throughout history, but they were surprised to discovery recently that the universe suddenly accelerated a few billion years ago. Finding out why that is will be key to unlocking more secrets about our universe.
“Today it sheds its identity as an ‘all-purpose research tool’ and, reinventing itself, turns to a new dedicated mission that will tackle one of the most profound problems in physics: understanding the mysterious physics of dark energy, an unknown form of energy that is believed to permeate all of space and accelerate the expansion of the Universe,” reads a statement from the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy. “To prepare for its new mission, the Mayall will close temporarily. Over the next 15 months, it will undergo the largest overhaul in its history in preparation for the installation of the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) , a massively parallel optical spectrometer capable of measuring the spectra of 5000 astronomical objects simultaneously.”