On a mountaintop in Chile is the most powerful digital camera mankind has ever constructed. Called the Dark Energy Camera, the phone booth-sized device shoots 570-megapixel photographs using an array of 62 separate CCD sensors and a 13-foot light-gathering mirror. Planning and building the thing took 120 scientists from 23 international organizations a whopping 8 years.
This past week, the researchers behind the project announced the first fruits of their labor: massive photographs that show patches of the sky 20 times the size of the moon (as seen from Earth).
The photographs are so big and so sensitive that each one shows over 100,000 separate galaxies that are up to 8 billion light years away.
Over the next five years, scientists plan to create these massive color photos of 1/8th of the night sky, capturing 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters, and even 4,000 supernovae. Although the camera itself shoots in monochrome, color will be obtained using five color filters the size of manhole covers.
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