When people talk about the beauty of science, it often brings to mind brilliant images of the stars. But there’s beauty in the machines that take those stellar shots, as well.
These digital camera CCDs—four chips with 16 segments each—will join 196 others inside the massive 3.2-gigapixel camera of the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), which will take an unparalleled wide-angle survey of the sky from atop the Chilean mountains of the Atacama Desert. The sensors were designed at Brookhaven to be sensitive to light outside the visible spectrum.
This false-color image shows the CCD chips illuminated by near infrared light—the wavelength range where the LSST will study distant galaxies in its quest to reveal the secrets of dark energy and dark matter. The patterns are interference fringes caused by small thickness variations in the silicon wafer from which they were fabricated, but these striking contours will not impact performance. The telescope will ultimately image 5 billion galaxies, and in conjunction with platforms such as Google Earth, LSST will build a 3D virtual map of the cosmos, allowing the public to fly through space from the comfort of home.