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New Galaxy-hunting Sky Camera Sees Redder Better

Star trails take shape around Kitt Peak National Observatory in this long-exposure image. The 4-meter Mayall telescope building, at right, now houses Mosaic-3, a new infrared camera built by a collaboration that includes Berkeley Lab scientists. (Photo credit: P. Marenfeld and NOAO/AURA/NSF)

A newly upgraded camera that incorporates light sensors developed at Berkeley Lab is one of the best cameras on the planet for studying outer space at red wavelengths too red for the human eye to see.

Explore Galaxies Far, Far Away at Internet Speeds

This screenshot, from an interactive Sky Viewer tool, shows a small region of the sky in the vicinity of the galaxy UGC 10041 imaged by the Dark Energy Camera Legacy Survey (DECaLS). Credit: Dustin Lang/University of Toronto

Scientists have released an “expansion pack” for a virtual tour of the universe that you can enjoy from the comfort of your own computer. The latest version of the publicly accessible images of the sky roughly doubles the size of the searchable universe from the project’s original release in May.

Supernova Twins: Making Standard Candles More Standard Than Ever

Supernova Factory group (SN factory) - Greg Aldering, Kyle Boone, Hannah Fakhouri and Saul Perlmutter.

Type Ia supernovae are bright “standard candles” for measuring cosmic distances. Standard enough to discover dark energy, they’re far from identical. Researchers at the Berkeley Lab-based Nearby Supernova Factory have shown that supernova twins with closely matching spectra double the accuracy of distance measures.

DESI, an Ambitious Probe of Dark Energy, Achieves its Next Major Milestone

Paul Preuss DESI-Mayall-sky feature

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced approval of Critical Decision 2 (CD–2), authorizing the scientific scope, schedule, and funding profile of DESI, the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument, an exceptional apparatus designed to improve our understanding of the role of dark energy in the expansion history of the universe.

Celeste: A New Model for Cataloging the Universe

The Víctor M. Blanco Telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile, where the Dark Energy Camera is being used to collect image data for the DECam Legacy Survey. The glint off the dome is moonlight; the small and large Magellanic clouds can be seen in the background. (Image: Dustin Lang, University of Toronto)

A Berkeley Lab-based research collaboration of astrophysicists, statisticians and computer scientists has created a new statistical analysis model designed to enhance one of modern astronomy’s most time-tested tools: sky surveys.

Supernova Hunting with Supercomputers

Simulation of the expanding debris from a supernova explosion (shown in red) running over and shredding a nearby star (shown in blue).
Image credit: Daniel Kasen, Berkeley Lab/ UC Berkeley

Berkeley researchers provide “roadmap” and tools for finding and studying Type Ia supernovae in their natural habitat

How a New Telescope Will Measure the Expansion of the Universe

Two-dimensional map of the sky that will identify the galaxies that will be the targets for our spectroscopic measurements once DESI is built. Source:

Michael Levi and David Schlegel, physicists at Berkeley Lab, discuss the future of the DESI project and how its forthcoming map will help scientists better understand dark energy.

Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) Wins $1.1M Award


The Heising-Simons Foundation has awarded $1.1M to the DESI project with the goal of helping to fabricate the unique optics needed to capture spectra of the young expanding universe.

BOSS Quasars Track the Expanding Universe – the Most Precise Measurement Yet

The Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) pioneered the use of quasars to chart the universe’s expansion and investigate the properties of dark energy through studies of large-scale structure. New techniques of analysis led by Berkeley Lab scientists, combined with other new BOSS quasar measures of the young universe’s structure, have produced the most precise measurement of expansion since galaxies formed.

Standard-Candle Supernovae are Still Standard, but Why?

Until recently, scientists thought they knew why Type Ia supernovae – the best cosmological “standard candles” – are all so much alike. But their favorite scenario was wrong. White dwarfs don’t all reach the Chandrasekhar limit, 1.4 times the mass of our sun, before they detonate in a massive thermonuclear explosion. Most Type Ia progenitors are less massive, and a few are even more massive. New work by the Berkeley Lab-based Nearby Supernova Factory can identify which theories of the strange circumstances that lead to a Type Ia explosion actually work and which don’t.