Ground-breaking film of universe to be ‘greatest ever made’

An artists impression of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Picture: Contributed

An artists impression of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope. Picture: Contributed

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A ground-breaking new film of the universe will be “the greatest movie ever made”, according to the team of Scottish and international astronomers behind the project.

It is set to be the world’s first ever motion picture of the entire visible sky and will be shot over a ten-year period.

Astronomy experts believe it could feature potentially dangerous asteroids and exploding stars, while also providing fresh insight into some of science’s most famous unsolved mysteries - such as dark matter and dark energy.

Footage will be gathered by a special telescope currently being built in the Chilean Andes. With 3.2 billion pixels and the capacity to record scenes 40 times larger than the area of the moon, it will be the biggest digital camera ever made when completed.

It will allow billions of stars, galaxies and solar system objects to be seen for the first time and monitored over the course of a decade.

Scientists working on the new technology, known as the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), don’t know for sure what images will be captured when it begins scanning the heavens in 2022. But the results, captured in six colours, will provide a detailed map of an area of the universe much larger than has ever been surveyed before.

Astronomers from 35 UK institutions are working on the US-led LSST project, headed up by the University of Edinburgh’s Dr Bob Mann.

“LSST will build up a very detailed map of billions of galaxies, with approximate distances to each, from which we will learn about the mysterious dark energy that seems to be accelerating the expansion of the universe,” said project scientist Sarah Bridle, of the University of Manchester.

“It will look for changes in the sky from night to night; both moving objects like asteroids and new ones like supernovae, that appear where nothing had been seen before.

“Covering each patch of sky over 800 times during its decade of operations, it will construct our first motion picture of the universe.”

Although analysing the data gathered by the giant telescope will pose “major challenges”, Dr Mann believes the work will help train future scientists.

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