DES in the News

All the news about DES that’s fit to print!

Astronomers just found 72 stellar explosions, but don’t know what’s causing them

A supernova is one of the most impressive natural phenomena in the Universe. Unfortunately, such events are often brief and transient, temporarily becoming as bright as an entire galaxy and then fading away. But given what these bright explosions – which occur when a star reaches the end of its life cycle – can teach us about the Universe, scientists are naturally very interested in studying them.

Using data from the Dark Energy Survey Supernova (DES-SN) program, a team of astronomers recently detected 72 supernovae, the largest number of events discovered to date. These supernovae were not only very bright, but also very brief – a finding which the team is still struggling to explain. The results of their study were presented on Tuesday, April 3rd, at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science in Liverpool.

The team was led by Miika Pursiainen, a PhD researcher from the University of Southampton. For the sake of their study, the team relied on data from the 4-meter telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). This telescope is part of the Dark Energy Survey, a global effort to map hundreds of millions of galaxies and thousands of supernovae in to find patterns int he cosmic structure that will reveal the nature of dark energy.

Meet the Portsmouth astronomers mapping out the universe

Professor Bob Nichol and Dr David Bacon, from the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation, have played key roles in the Dark Energy Survey (DES).
Kick-started in 2003, the project has united more than 400 scientists from institutions in the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Spain, Germany, Switzerland and Australia. And together, with internationally-sourced government and university funding, this crack team has built and used a 570-megapixel digital camera to carry out a deep probe of 5,000 square degrees – or one eighth – of the southern sky.

Scientists discover 10.5-billion-year-old supernova

Scientists working on the Dark Energy Survey (DES), an international project mapping a few hundred million distant galaxies to learn more about dark energy, discovered the most distant supernova ever detected.

Designated DES16C2nm, the supernova took place 10.5 billion years ago when a massive star exploded at the end of its life. It is classed as a superluminous supernova (SLSN), the brightest and most rare of all supernovae.

“Such supernovae were not thought of when we started DES over a decade ago,” explained Bob Nichol, Director of the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation at the University of Portsmouth in the UK.

“Such discoveries show the importance of empirical science; sometimes, you just have to go out and look up to find something amazing.”

Mathew Smith of the University of Southampton, also in the UK, and lead author of a paper on the findings published in the Astrophysical Journal, noted the rare finding gives astronomers better understanding of the rare superluminous supernovae.

Oldest supernova EVER DETECTED found by UK scientists in GROUNDBREAKING discovery

The colossal cosmic blast happened only 3.3billion years after the Big Bang, when the universe was a quarter of its current age, and light from the supernova has taken 10.5billion years to reach Earth – the Universe itself is thought to be 13.8billion years old.
The supernova, named DES16C2nm, was identified by a team led by Southampton University for the Dark Energy Survey (DES) – an international collaboration mapping far-off galaxies.
The team confirmed it is a superluminous supernova (SLSN) which is the brightest and rarest class and up to 100 times brighter than other types of stellar blasts.
Lead author Dr Mathew Smith said: “DES16C2nm is extremely distant, extremely bright and extremely rare – not the sort of thing you stumble across every day as an astronomer.
“It’s thrilling to be part of the survey that has discovered the oldest known supernova.
“As well as being a very exciting discovery in its own right the extreme distance of DES16C2nm gives us a unique insight into the nature of SLSN.”

Astronomers discover the oldest supernova which took place 10.5 billion years ago

An international team of astronomers has discovered the oldest supernova ever detected — a huge cosmic explosion that took place 10.5 billion years ago. A supernova is the explosion of a massive star at the end of its life cycle.
The exploding star, named DES16C2nm, was detected by the Dark Energy Survey (DES), an international collaboration to map several hundred million galaxies in order to find out more about dark energy — the mysterious force believed to be causing the accelerated expansion of the universe.
As detailed in a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, light from the event has taken 10.5 billion years to reach Earth, making it the oldest supernova ever discovered and studied.

Astronomers Reveal Secrets of Most Distant Supernova Ever Detected

As detailed in a new study published in The Astrophysical Journal, light from the event has taken 10.5 billion years to reach Earth, making it the oldest supernova ever discovered and studied. The universe itself is thought to be 13.8 billion years old.

The research was led by Mathew Smith of the University of Southampton in collaboration with Chris D’Andrea, a postdoctoral fellow at Penn, and Masao Sako, an associate professor in Penn’s School of Arts and Sciences. Researchers at the University of Portsmouth also contributed to the research.

A supernova is the explosion of a massive star at the end of its life cycle. DES16C2nm is classified as a superluminous supernova, or SLSN, the brightest and rarest class of supernovae, first discovered 10 years ago. It is thought to be caused by material falling onto the densest object in the universe, a rapidly rotating neutron star newly formed in the explosion of a massive star. This violent explosion, Sako said, is brighter than even the brightest galaxies.

Stargazing at university

STUDENTS from Seaford Head School attended a Stargazing Live! Event organised by the widening participation team at Sussex University.

Pupils from Year 7 spent the day at the Falmer campus and enjoyed a tour by one of the university ambassadors and were able to ask questions about what life at university is like.

The day also involved a number of stargazing workshops using spectroscopes to identify different gases; group work on dark matter presented by the Dark Energy Survey; a lesson on exoplanets and how to spot them; and an amazing show in the planetarium.

Dark Energy Survey Unveils First Three Years of Data on Universe Expansion

The Dark Energy Survey (DES), a project designed to explain cosmic expansion, has released its first three years of data. So far, the project has mapped 5,000 square degrees or about one-eighth of the sky.

DES is an international collaboration between over 400 researchers, including scientists from the University of Chicago Physical Sciences Division, Fermilab, and Argonne Laboratories. They have compiled a repository with nearly 400 million distinct catalogued objects detected from imaging.

Stellar streams are very difficult to detect because they are composed of stars spread out over large distances. Nora Shipp, a graduate student in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, is leading the DES identification of new stellar streams, which affirms the DECam’s power. “These discoveries are possible because DES is the widest, deepest and best-calibrated survey out there,” Shipp said.

Dark Energy Survey Releases First Three Years of Data

Free, detailed information on 400 million astronomical objects, anybody? Just visit the website of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) – it’s there for the taking. At a special session of the 231st meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Washington, D.C., scientists presented the first data release (DR1) of the survey, containing observations that were collected between mid-2013 and early 2016. Among the preliminary results: eleven new stellar streams in the Milky Way galaxy and new constraints on cosmological parameters.

The Dark Energy Survey is carried out with the giant Dark Energy Camera (DECam) at the 4-meter Blanco Telescope of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. Built at Fermilab in Chicago, DECam sports 62 sensitive CCDs with a grand total of 570 million pixels. The 4-ton camera has a huge 3-square-degree field of view. The survey’s main goal is to solve the riddle of dark energy – the mystery force behind the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Dark Energy Survey spots remains of 11 galaxies devoured by the Milky Way

The first intriguing findings have been released from the Dark Energy Survey, a project that’s studying the sky to find clues about the mysterious force that seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe. And among the data is the discovery of 11 new stellar streams, the remains of smaller galaxies that our own Milky Way has torn to shreds.