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Wire Festival

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Making the largest maps
of the Universe

Have you ever wondered what the Universe is made of, or how it has grown since the Big Bang? A worldwide collaboration of more than 800 scientists is using the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) to make the most detailed three-dimensional map of the Universe ever to help answer these questions and many others! DESI is an amazing new instrument recently installed at the Mayall Telescope at the National Science Foundation’s Kitt Peak National Observatory in Arizona thanks to a collaboration with the U.S. Department of Energy. It uses tiny robotic arms to collect light from thousands of selected galaxies at one time, and then measures the detailed breakdown of light coming from each object, allowing their distances to be determined. By 2026 it will have mapped the 3D positions of more than 30 million galaxies distributed over a third of the night sky; some objects are so far away that their light has taken more than 11 billion years to reach us! The resulting maps contain patterns in the distribution of galaxies — tracing out the underlying, invisible web of dark matter — which were imprinted in the very early history of our Universe and tell us about its history and composition. For more information, visit www.desi.lbl.gov


  • Joe McCarthy
  • Meghan Culpeper
  • Biprateep Dey
  • Jeff Newman
  • Lorena Mezini
  • Catherine Fielder
  • David Setton
  • Rongpu Zhou