The new South Pole Telescope (SPT) has successfully collected its first light as part of a long-term project to unravel one of the biggest mysteries in cosmology, researchers announced today.
The goal of SPT is to learn the nature of mysterious dark energy, an anti-gravity force that permeates the cosmos and is driving the universe apart at an ever-increasing pace.
The telescope does not make conventional images. Instead, it will take advantage of excellent viewing conditions — cold and dry — in Antarctica to detect the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The CMB is said to be the afterglow of the Big Bang.
On the electromagnetic spectrum, the CMB falls somewhere between heat radiation (infrared) and radio waves.