Physics and Astronomy Professors to Use New Telescope in Hunt for Dark Energy

After more than a decade of development and planning, the National Science Foundation has approved federal construction of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, of which the University of Pennsylvania is a member, will manage the $473 million construction project. 

Bhuvnesh Jain, Mike Jarvis, Larry Gladney, Gary Bernstein and Masao Sako of the Department of Physics & Astronomy in the School of Arts & Sciences are involved in LSST. Jain leads LSST’s cosmology effort as spokesperson for its Dark Energy Science Collaboration, while Jarvis is co-coordinator of its weak gravitational lensing working group. 

Gravitational lensing involves measuring minute distortions in the light of distant galaxies as a way of inferring the properties of objects that light passes by on its way to Earth. These objects include galaxies and cosmic superclusters, which are dominated by dark matter, a form of matter that is not directly visible. Lensing is also one of the main methods Bernstein, Jain and Jarvis are applying with the ongoing Dark Energy Survey. 

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