Dark Energy Survey: Observing Shift at CTIO

Lead Research Organisation: University of Portsmouth
Department Name: Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation


The following is taken from the abstract of the attached observing proposal, which was granted 525 nights of observing time over 5 years on the instrument and telescope detailed within:

"The Nobel Prize in Physics for 2011 was awarded for the discovery of the accelerating expansion of the Universe. The primary scientic objective of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) is to address the question: why is the expansion of the Universe speeding up? Is cosmic acceleration due to dark energy or does it require a modication of General Relativity? If dark energy, is it the energy density of the vacuum (Einstein's cosmological constant) or something else? DES will address these questions by measuring the properties of dark energy with unprecedented precision, using four complementary techniques: galaxy clusters, large-scale galaxy clustering (including baryon acoustic oscillations), weak gravitational lensing, and type Ia supernovae. To achieve the requisite precision, we will conduct two optimally interleaved surveys over 525 nights: a wide-area grizY survey covering 5000 sq. deg. to 24th mag and a deeper time-domain griz survey with 5-day cadence covering 30 sq. deg. In response to an NOAO AO in 2003, the DES collaboration was formed and has built the Dark Energy Camera (DECam), a 570- megapixel, red-sensitive imager with 2.2 degree field of view, five uniform, high-throughput filters, a five-element optical corrector, and a hexapod system for active focus and alignment. We have constructed and will operate a data management system to process and serve DES survey data and a Community Pipeline for NOAO to process community data. The DES data products will provide a rich legacy for the astronomy community, and DECam will be an extraordinary asset as a facility instrument on the Blanco Telescope."


10 25 50

publication icon
Agnello A (2015) Discovery of two gravitationally lensed quasars in the Dark Energy Survey in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Chang C. (2018) Dark Energy Survey Year 1 results: curved-sky weak lensing mass map in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Collett Thomas E. (2018) A precise extragalactic test of General Relativity in Science

publication icon
Crocce M (2015) Galaxy clustering, photometric redshifts and diagnosis of systematics in the DES Science Verification data in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

publication icon
Drlica-Wagner A. (2018) Dark Energy Survey Year 1 Results: The Photometric Data Set for Cosmology in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series

Description The Dark Energy Survey is an on-going STFC project (ending in 2018). The data from this instrument will probe the nature of the dark universe and has already spawned neary 60 academic papers from the initial data (taken in 2013-14). This observing trip was part of that initial data run.
Exploitation Route The goal of the DES is dark energy and dark matter. This fundamental science fascinates the public and is part of our culture now.
Sectors Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.darkenergysurvey.org
Description DES 
Organisation Dark Energy Survey (DES)
Country Global 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Scientific leadership and guidance, preparation of scientific simulations and preparations, organisation of meetings and events
Collaborator Contribution Access to proprietary data and scientific collaboration
Impact Scientific publications (see publication list)
Start Year 2006
Description Cosmology Masterclass 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Schools
Results and Impact Since 2012 the Cosmology Masterclass has engaged and inspired over 200 A level students with research at the ICG. The Cosmology Masterclass began as a collaboration with The Portsmouth Grammar School in 2010 and is now held annually on campus, with several additional 'mini-Masterclasses' each year at local colleges.

- Feedback from the 2013 event was some of the best the University has received for an A level event.
- Over the years 13 students have subsequently joined ICG for summer placements of which four cite their experiences at ICG as helping them to decide to pursue STEM subjects at university.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2012,2013,2014
Description Stargazing Live 2015 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact 450 members of the public attended the annual Stargazing Live at Portsmouth Historic Dockyard event organised by the Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation with HMS Warrior and Action Stations. The majority of Co-Is participated in the event, talking to attendees about their research through stands and hands-on activities. The event was also attended by several local councillors. Many attendees reported that the event had inspired them to find out more about astronomy or attend more science-related events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
Description TV appearance - Horizon - Nichol 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Professor Bob Nichol featured in an episode of BBC Horizon: Dancing in the Dark - The End of Physics?

The Horizon crew accompanied Professor Nichol to Chile and, in the documentary, he discusses the scope of cosmology, the observational evidence for the nature of dark matter, and the mystery of dark energy which is expected to occupy astrophysics for some time.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015