Building on its past successes, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has launched a major new program
that will expand its census of the Universe into new areas it had been unable to explore before:
- Exploring the compositions and motions of stars across the entire Milky Way in unprecedented detail,
using a telescope in Chile
- Making detailed maps of the internal structure of thousands of nearby galaxies to determine how they
have grown and changed over billions of years, using a cutting-edge measurement device
-Measuring the expansion of the Universe in a poorly-understood five-billion-year period of the Universe's
history, using a new set of galaxies and quasars
The new survey is a collaboration of more than 200 astronomers at more than 40 institutions on four
continents, and incorporates telescopes in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. With these two
telescopes, the SDSS will be able to see the entire sky for the first time.
This new phase of the SDSS will provide a vast new database of observations that will significantly
expand our understanding of the nature of the Universe at all scales, from our own galaxy to the distant
universe. In our galaxy, the new SDSS will see hundreds of thousands of individual stars, including stars
that were born at the birth of the Milky Way and stars that were born yesterday. Measuring the
compositions, positions, and motions of individual stars will reveal how the Galaxy evolved from the
distant past to today.
In addition to the Sloan Foundation 2.5-meter Telescope in New Mexico, SDSS-IV will use the 2.5-meter
Irenee du Pont Telescope at Las Campanas Observatory in La Serena, high in the Chilean Andes and home
to the clearest skies on the planet. In addition to providing a 360-degree view of the Milky Way, the
new telescope will also observe stars in the nearby Magellanic Clouds, giving astronomers a better
understanding of the Milky Way's celestial environment.
But the Milky Way is far from the only galaxy that the new SDSS will examine. The new survey will employ
innovative new technology to make detailed maps of thousands of nearby galaxies. Unlike nearly all previous
astronomy surveys, which looked only at small areas in the centers of other galaxies, the new SDSS will
measure light from all over. These better maps are made possible through a new technique of bundling sets
of fiber optic cables into tightly-packed arrays. Those collect light from across the entire face of a galaxy,
enabling detailed spectral measurements of more than 10,000 nearby galaxies in less than one-twentieth of
MPA scientist Guinevere Kauffmann was heavily involved in planning the "Mapping Nearby Galaxies at APO" (MaNGA)
survey right from the beginning. MaNGA's goal is to understand the "life cycle" of present day galaxies
from imprinted clues of their birth and assembly, through their ongoing growth via star formation and merging,
to their death from quenching at late times.
"MaNGA will be key to disentangling the physical processes important in the lives of galaxies," Guinevere Kauffmann
points out. "In particular, we need to understand which aspects of galaxies are set by cosmological initial
conditions and which are set by black holes."
And the new SDSS will continue to improve our understanding of the Universe as a whole. It will precisely
measure the expansion history of the universe through 80% of cosmic history, back to when the Universe was
less than three billion years old. These new detailed measurements will help to improve constraints on
the nature of dark energy, the most mysterious experimental result in modern physics.
The new cosmology measurements will include a survey of nearly all the quasars, which will allow for
precision measurements of the history of the Universe's expansion in ways never before possible. Other
programs within the new SDSS will follow up on galaxies seen by prior X-ray surveys, and will conduct
the first systematic spectral study of variable objects, yielding a critical resource astronomers can
use to identify the nature of many types of time-varying light sources discovered in previous surveys.
SDSS Press Officer:
Jordan Raddick, SDSS-III Public Information Officer, Johns Hopkins University
Contact at MPA
Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik
Phone: 089 30000-2013
Presse- und Öffentlichkeitsarbeit
Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik
Tel: +49 (89) 30 000 3980
ABOUT THE SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY
Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation
and the Participating Institutions. SDSS-IV acknowledges support and resources from the Center
for High-Performance Computing at the University of Utah. The SDSS web site is www.sdss.org.
SDSS-IV is managed by the Astrophysical Research Consortium for the Participating Institutions
of the SDSS Collaboration including the Carnegie Institution for Science, Carnegie Mellon University,
the Chilean Participation Group, Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Instituto de Astrofisica
de Canarias, The Johns Hopkins University, Kavli Institute for the Physics and Mathematics of the
Universe (IPMU) / University of Tokyo, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Leibniz Institut für
Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP),Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik (MPA Garching), Max-Planck-Institut
für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE), Max-Planck-Institut für Astronomie (MPIA Heidelberg), National
Astronomical Observatory of China, New Mexico State University, New York University, The Ohio State
University, Pennsylvania State University, Shanghai Astronomical Observatory, United Kingdom
Participation Group, Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, University of Arizona, University of
Colorado Boulder, University of Portsmouth, University of Utah, University of Washington, University
of Wisconsin, Vanderbilt University, and Yale University.