Dark Energy Survey Finds Eight More Galactic Neighbours

(20 August 2015)

The Dark Energy Survey has now mapped one-eighth of the full sky (red shaded region) using the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco telescope at the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile (foreground). This map has led to the discovery of 17 dwarf galaxy candidates in the past six months (red dots), including eight new candidates just announced. Several of the candidates are in close proximity to the two largest dwarf galaxies orbiting the Milky Way, the Large and Small Magellanic Clouds, both of which are visible to the unaided eye. By comparison, the new stellar systems are so faint that they are difficult to “see” even in the deep DES images and can be more easily visualised using maps of the stellar density (inset). Fourteen of the dwarf galaxy candidates found in DES data are visible in this particular image. Illustration credit: Dark Energy Survey Collaboration.


The Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) is a complex of astronomical telescopes and instruments located at 30.169 S, 70.804 W, approximately 80 km to the East of La Serena, Chile, at an altitude of 2200 meters.  CTIO headquarters are located in La Serena, Chile, about 300 miles north of Santiago.

The CTIO complex is part of the U.S. National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO), along with the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) in Tucson, Arizona.  NOAO is operated by the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA) under cooperative agreement with the National Science Foundation (NSF).  CTIO, as part of the AURA Observatory in Chile, operates in Chile under Chilean law, through an Agreement with the University of Chile and with the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile.

The principal telescopes on site are the 4-m Victor M. Blanco Telescope and the 4.1-m Southern Astrophysical Research (SOAR) telescope.  One of the two 8-m telescopes comprising the Gemini Observatory is co-located with CTIO on AURA property in Chile, together with more than 10 other telescopes and astronomical projects.