Astronomers hate dust as much as the rest of us ― even more, perhaps. It’s one thing to get a little dust in your eye that takes your vision out of focus. Now imagine this kind of dust problem on a galactic scale where it hinders scientists trying to focus their telescopes into space.
That’s part of the challenge faced by researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, reports Space.com. They’re creating an instrument that will offer specific information on how fast the universe is growing.
This device ― the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument ― will create a map of over 30 million galaxies. But in order for that map to be precise, astronomers will have to correct for the problems created by all the dust particles in the Milky Way galaxy that impede their deep space investigations.
“Because outer space is a very dusty place, that makes things very difficult for astronomers and astrophysicists who are trying to peer farther across the universe or deep into the center of our own galaxy to learn more about their structure, formation and evolution,” according to a Berkeley Lab statement.
To help with the DESI project, Berkeley researchers created the following detailed 3D animation showing dust that spans thousands of light-years in our home galaxy. The study was published this week in The Astrophysical Journal. Here’s the animation: