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The power of the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera, which is mapping the southern sky in unprecedented detail, lies in its ability to capture celestial objects millions of light-years away. Scientists are now working toward developing an instrument for characterizing these stars and galaxies in even greater detail.

Scientist Juan Estrada is currently leading a Fermilab team to develop a large instrument using detectors called MKIDs, short for microwave kinetic inductance detectors. In the coming years, they’ll use it to obtain more information about the astronomical objects already detected by the Dark Energy Camera, pointing it into the night sky to capture more information about those objects’ light.

The team builds on the work of a University of California, Santa Barbara, group led by Ben Mazin, which developed MKIDs for the visible and infrared spectrum.

“These are small detectors,” Estrada says. “We’d like to convert this technology into something for a large instrument for cosmology.”

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