Shedding light on the search for dark energy

The night sky at the McDonald Observatory in fort Davis, Texas. LIzz Giordano//Medill

By Lizz Giordano
Engineers and astronomers at the McDonald Observatory in the Davis Mountains of South Texas are hoping their view of 1 million galaxies will shed some light on dark energy. Scientists link this mysterious and unseen energy that permeates the cosmos to the accelerating expansion of the universe.

Technology advancements are opening up entirely new parts of the skies for astronomers to study. Engineers at the McDonald Observatory are upgrading The Hobby-Eberly Telescope in preparation for their first major experiment to search for dark energy.

Over the next three years, the Hobby-Eberly Telescope Dark Energy Experiment will collect data on 1 million galaxies that are 9 to 11 billion light years away. Through these observations, astronomers will be able to measure how fast the universe was expanding at different times in its history.

Video by Lizz Giordano/Medill

How the Hobby-Eberly Telescope will search for dark energy. Scripted by Lizz Giordano/Medill; Produced by Next Media Animation.

Photo at top: The night sky at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis, Texas. LIzz Giordano//Medill