The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) just released its first batch of data on nearly 2 million objects in space – including distant galaxies and quasars as well as stars in our own Milky Way – now publicly available for researchers to explore.

To study dark energy, the mysterious force behind the accelerating expansion of our universe, scientists are using DESI to make a 3D map of the universe. The 80-terabyte data set comes from 2,480 exposures taken over six months during the experiment’s “survey validation” phase (the period between turning the instrument on and beginning the first official science run) in 2020 and 2021.

“The fact that DESI works so well, and that the amount of science-grade data it took during survey validation is comparable to previous completed sky surveys, is a monumental achievement,” said Nathalie Palanque-Delabrouille, co-spokesperson for DESI and a scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), which manages the experiment. “This milestone shows that DESI is a unique spectroscopic factory whose data will not only allow the study of dark energy but will also be coveted by the whole scientific community to address other topics, such as dark matter, gravitational lensing, and galactic morphology.”

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DESI Early Data Release Holds Nearly Two Million Objects
June 13, 2023 / Lauren Biron / Berkeley Lab News Center