The Dark Energy Survey (DES), in which researchers from the Institute for High Energy Physics (IFAE) are participating, has released the first three years of observations, including evidence that The Milky Way Galaxy is actually thousands of smaller galaxies merged into one.
At a special session held during the American Astronomical Society meeting in Washington, D.C., scientists on the Dark Energy Survey (DES) announced the public release of their first three years of data. This first major release of data from the Survey includes information on about 400 million astronomical objects, including distant galaxies billions of light-years away as well as stars in our own galaxy.
DES scientists are using this data to learn more about dark energy, the mysterious force believed to be accelerating the expansion of the universe, and presented some of their preliminary cosmological findings in the special session. As part of that session, DES scientists also announced today the discovery of 11 new stellar streams, remnants of smaller galaxies torn apart and devoured by our Milky Way.
The public release of the first three years of DES data fulfills a commitment scientists on the survey made to share their findings with the astronomy community and the public. The data cover the full DES footprint – about 5,000 square degrees, or one eighth of the entire sky — and include roughly 40,000 exposures taken with the Dark Energy Camera. The images correspond to hundreds of terabytes of data and are being released along with catalogs of hundreds of millions of galaxies and stars.
“There are all kinds of discoveries waiting to be found in the data. While DES scientists are focused on using it to learn about dark energy, we wanted to enable astronomers to explore these images in new ways, to improve our understanding of the universe,” said Dark Energy Survey Data Management Project Scientist Brian Yanny of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.
More information can be found on the IFAE website.