A new telescope camera in Chile focused on mysterious dark energy has taken its first photos of extremely distant galaxies.
The images represent the first observations — called "first light" — of an instrument called the Dark Energy Camera that was eight years in the works.
"The achievement of first light through the Dark Energy Camera begins a significant new era in our exploration of the cosmic frontier," James Siegrist, associate director of science for high energy physics at the U.S. Department of Energy, said in a statement. "The results of this survey will bring us closer to understanding the mystery of dark energy, and what it means for the universe."
Scientists think dark energy makes up 74 percent of the universe, yet they have very little idea what it is. For now, it is the name given to the force that's counteracting gravity, causing the expansion of the universe to accelerate.
The Dark Energy Camera is designed to study this puzzle by mapping out the distant universe to more accurate pin down its current and past expansion rates.
"The Dark Energy Survey will help us understand why the expansion of the universe is accelerating, rather than slowing due to gravity," said Brenna Flaugher, project manager and scientist at Fermilab.