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The South Pole Telescope

The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter-diameter telescope located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. This cold, dry location facilitates observations of the faint cosmic microwave background.

The SPT was specifically designed to tackle the dark energy mystery. It operates at millimeter wavelengths to make high-resolution images of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) which scientists use in their search for distant, massive galaxy clusters that can be used to pinpoint the properties of dark energy and the mass of the neutrino.

Analysis of new data from the SPT is currently providing new support for the most widely accepted explanation of dark energy and Einstein’s cosmological constant. With this data set scientists will be able to place extremely tight constraints on dark energy and possibly determine the mass of the neutrinos.

A series of papers detailing the SPT findings have been submitted to the Astrophysical Journal (see ApJ, 2011, 743, 28 led by Ryan Keisler, led by Benson, and led by Christian Reichardt). [via]

Above: (1) The South Pole Telescope (SPT) at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. (2) This image displays a portion of the South Pole Telescope survey of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Points of light mark quasars and gravitationally lensed galaxies. The variations in the image are minute fluctuations in the intensity of the CMB. The fluctuations are caused by differences in the distribution of matter in the early universe at a time only 400,000 years after the Big Bang. The image is effectively a “baby picture” of the universe. »