DESI Opens Its 5,000 Eyes to Capture the Colors of the Cosmos

November 01, 2019

The Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) has achieved its “First Light”, an important milestone, in making its first measurement of the spectrum of a galaxy.

DESI is installed on the 4-m Mayall Telescope at Kitt Peak National Observatory near Tucson, Arizona, and will measure spectra of tens of millions of galaxies during the five-year survey, which will enable us to improve greatly our understanding of the mysterious phenomenon known as dark energy.

BU has been heavily involved in various aspects of DESI ranging from hardware fabrication, integration and testing, software development, simulation analysis, to overnight observing at the Mayall for the imaging survey and prototype run (ProtoDESI). The Scientific Instrument Facility (SIF) at BU, under the direction of Heitor Mourato, built many of the critical jigging pieces needed to assemble 5000 precision robotic fiber positioners, and also built the focal plane structure consisting of ten wedge shaped Focal Plane Petals. 

When he was a graduate student at BU, Duan Yutong worked on DESI for four years under the supervision of Prof. Steve Ahlen of BU. He has helped construct the DESI focal plane and studied computer simulations to evaluate the systematics affecting DESI’s cosmology measurements. In the next several months, he will be working on the commissioning phase of DESI so that the instrument can begin making scientific observations starting in early 2020.


To learn more about DESI, read the first-light press release from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and visit the DESI website.