In its infancy, the universe consisted of about 15 percent ordinary matter — the kind that makes up stars and trees and people — and about 1 percent of a mysterious force called dark energy. Today, the ordinary stuff of us is only 4 percent of the universe; dark energy makes up more than 70 percent. (The remaining 23 percent is dark matter.) Solving the mystery of dark energy, and probing why it seems to be fueling the accelerating expansion of the universe, is the mission of the Dark Energy Survey. Over the next five years, a 570-megapixel digital camera mounted on the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile will map one-eighth of the sky, recording information on 300 million galaxies and thousands more supernovae and galaxy clusters. All in a quest to answer some of the most important questions about our existence. Read the full story, and check out an interactive star photo taken with the Dark Energy Camera.
NSF is highlighting statistics from NSF-funded research in celebration of the 2013 International Year of Statistics. Look for them weekly on Tumblr.
Photo: Stars over the NSF-funded Cerro Tololo observatory in Chile
Credit: Reidar Hahn/Fermilab