Why Dark Energy Is Good for Opportunistic Astronomy
Adam Bolton (NOIRLab)
Tuesday, October 19, 12:00pm, B305 / Zoom
Abstract: Modern cosmological redshift surveys map the large-scale structure of the Universe in three dimensions by collecting spectra of millions of galaxies. While they are primarily motivated by the quest to understand the nature of dark energy, these surveys also enable unique data-driven astrophysics research at the scale of individual galaxies. Many of the most exciting applications (in the speaker’s opinion) center around the discovery of strong gravitational lenses and their application to the study of dark matter, galaxy evolution, general relativity, and the expansion of the Universe. I will give an overview of this research area, looking backward at the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) and forward to the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI). I will explain several of the key algorithmic and data-science methods that make the astrophysics possible. I will also describe our initiatives at NSF’s NOIRLab that aim to make this kind of research accessible to the broadest possible community of scientists.