Image Credit: J. Ramseyer Orrell/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory

Technology Chile16. April 2024

Smile for the Biggest Camera: HD Photos of the Universe Are Coming!

The technical marvel that is the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) Camera is ready to be transported to Chile, its final destination, where it will take highly defined pictures of the southern sky to help astronomers better understand dark matter and dark energy.

“Its images are so detailed that it could resolve a golf ball from around 25 kilometers away while covering a swath of the sky seven times wider than the full Moon,” explains SLAC professor and Vera C. Rubin Observatory Deputy Director and Camera Program Lead Aaron Roodman. “These images, with billions of stars and galaxies, will help unlock the secrets of the Universe.”

The LSST camera weighs 3,000 kilograms and generates 3,200-megapixel pictures. To screen the images captured by the LSST camera properly, 378 4K ultra-high-definition televisions would be required. Its revolutionary resolution is due to two custom-made lenses – the first is 1.5 meters across, and the second is 90 centimetres wide – with the smaller one used to seal the focal plane of the lens kept in a vacuum. The focal plane is made of 201 custom-made CCD sensors and is so flat that its surface doesn’t vary more than one-tenth of the width of a human hair. From January 2025, the Rubin Observatory’s LSST camera will study how galaxies and clusters of galaxies changed over billions of years, thus providing insights into the evolution of galaxies and the distribution of dark matter. By measuring supernovae, the universe’s expansion and its cause, dark energy, will be better understood.


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