Scientists at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory captured the first 3200-megapixel photographs using the world’s largest digital camera. This is reported in the official blog of the laboratory.
In the future, the camera will be installed on the observation telescope of the Vera Rubin Observatory under construction in Chile. Once installed, the camera will capture panoramic images of the entire southern hemisphere of the sky for ten years. The data obtained will form the basis of the largest astronomical atlas in history – LSST (Legacy Survey of Space and Time). It is expected to include information on about twenty billion galaxies.
Images captured with the largest digital camera, SLAC, are so large that 378 ultra-high definition 4K TVs are required to display them in full size. The camera resolution allows you to see the golf ball from a distance of 25 kilometers. The developers note that the SLAC-developed camera, which was completed in January of this year, will raise the detail of astrophysical observations to an unprecedented level. It is capable of detecting objects 100 million times fainter than the human eye can detect. That is why one of its main tasks will be the search and study of dark energy and dark matter.
The focal plane of the camera, according to scientists, is somewhat similar to the matrix of a conventional digital camera, only more complicated. It uses sensors to capture light emitted or reflected by an object and convert it into electrical signals that are used to create a digital image.
The surface of the camera contains 189 separate CCDs (CCDs), each of which provides a resolution of 16 megapixels – about the same as the image sensors of modern digital cameras. Kits of nine CCDs and their auxiliary electronics are assembled into square blocks called “rafts.” Each of these $ 3 million rafts is in turn assembled on a mesh that holds them together.
The new camera is unique in every way. In addition to the gigantic resolution, the pixel size on the matrix deserves special attention. Each is only 10 microns wide. At the same time, the very focal plane of the camera is extremely flat – deviations from the ideal plane do not exceed one tenth of the thickness of a human hair. This allows the camera to capture crisp images at a very high resolution.
The camera sensors can only work at minus one hundred degrees Celsius, so the entire focal plane of the camera is located inside the cryostat. Over the coming months, specialists will insert a focal plane cryostat into the camera body and add lenses, including the world’s largest optical lens, shutter and filter replacement system to study the night sky in different colors. By mid-2021, the camera will be ready for final testing and then travel to Chile.
Examples of camera images can be found on the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory blog.
If you notice an error, select it with the mouse and press CTRL + ENTER.