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The World's Most Powerful Digital Camera

After work by scientists on three continents over eight years, the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera took its first pictures of the night sky over Chile on September 12. The Dark Energy Survey (DES) group hopes images taken by the camera can help answer one of the biggest mysteries in science: why the expansion of the universe is increasing.

This is one of the first images recorded by the Dark Energy Camera, the world's most-powerful digital camera. Built at Fermilab, a U.S.-run facility near Chicago, and mounted on a telescope at an observatory in Chile, the camera achieved first light on September 12.
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This is one of the first images recorded by the Dark Energy Camera, the world's most-powerful digital camera. Built at Fermilab, a U.S.-run facility near Chicago, and mounted on a telescope at an observatory in Chile, the camera achieved first light on September 12.

The camera is roughly the size of a phone booth.
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The camera is roughly the size of a phone booth.

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Able to see light from over 100,000 galaxies up to 8 billion light years away in each image, the camera is the most-powerful instrument of its kind.
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Able to see light from over 100,000 galaxies up to 8 billion light years away in each image, the camera is the most-powerful instrument of its kind.

Scientists believe something called "dark energy" is responsible for the acceleration of the universe's expansion, but have yet to understand what it is.
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Scientists believe something called "dark energy" is responsible for the acceleration of the universe's expansion, but have yet to understand what it is.

The camera's completed imager
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The camera's completed imager

The camera's cage
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The camera's cage

The Dark Energy Camera will have the world’s largest camera filter, seen here being unpacked at Fermilab for assembly onto the camera.
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The Dark Energy Camera will have the world’s largest camera filter, seen here being unpacked at Fermilab for assembly onto the camera.

The University of Bonn team displays the world's largest shutter in front of the Schmidt telescope dome of the Hoher List Observatory.
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The University of Bonn team displays the world's largest shutter in front of the Schmidt telescope dome of the Hoher List Observatory.

To test the design, team members built a replica.
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To test the design, team members built a replica.

The Dark Energy Survey camera in its "clean room" at the observatory in Chile.
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The Dark Energy Survey camera in its "clean room" at the observatory in Chile.

The camera's optics
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The camera's optics

The camera's front-end electronics
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The camera's front-end electronics

The camera is lifted into the cage. Scientists plan to use the camera to make the most in-depth survey of the galaxy ever.
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The camera is lifted into the cage. Scientists plan to use the camera to make the most in-depth survey of the galaxy ever.

The 4-meter Blanco telescope. The green circle marks the location of the prime focus cage where the Dark Energy Camera will be mounted.
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The 4-meter Blanco telescope. The green circle marks the location of the prime focus cage where the Dark Energy Camera will be mounted.

The Blanco telescope in Chile as seen from the air.
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The Blanco telescope in Chile as seen from the air.

This is one of the first images recorded by the Dark Energy Camera.
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This is one of the first images recorded by the Dark Energy Camera.

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