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KRTS Astronomy Series: HETDEX, Dark Energy at the McDonald Observatory

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On the last Monday of each month, KRTS’s Talk at Ten features a conversation with an astronomer from  The McDonald Observatory. In this episode, host K. Yoland goes on a tour with Dr. Thomas Barnes, the superintendent and Senior Research Scientist at the McDonald Observatory in Fort Davis.

Though much ground was covered on the tour, the focus of this interview is on HETDEX and the HETDEX experiment. This is the first experiment on this scale to search for dark energy. Using the 3rd biggest telescope in the world and an array of spectrographs the experiment will map the three-dimensional position of approximately one million galaxies in the next 3 to 4 years.

The aim of this experiment is to tell us what constitutes almost three-quarters of all the matter and energy in our universe. It will test our supposed laws of gravity and shed light on the Big Bang and thus how our universe was born.

This experiment can reveal such wonders due to its exploration of dark energy. Reflected in the name, dark energy is a mysterious force that contrary top our assumptions, is causing the universe to expand faster as it ages.  HETDEX will make observations which should narrow the possible explanations for dark energy.

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