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Dark Energy Survey releases first year value-added data products

The Dark Energy Survey (DES) has made public a large set of value-added data products derived from the images and catalogs processed and generated at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, corresponding to the first year (Y1) of the DES survey.

Astronomers and cosmology aficionados can download the data from the DES website at NCSA along with the recent DES DR1 release and early data release from the scientific verification period.

“As DES finishes its observing program, it’s inspiring to see this set of papers released,” said Don Petravick, a Senior Project Manager for DES, based at NCSA.

The content of these catalogs was used recently by the DES collaboration in a large series of cosmological analyses that led to very tight and precise constraints for dark matter and dark energy. Data from the DES, which has been published and distributed in more than 30 articles in esteemed journals, has enabled the generation of one of the most accurate dark matter maps to the date.

The nearly-300 gigabyte collection of data includes the catalog data for over 130 million objects, including galaxies and stars over an area close to 1,300 square degrees in the sky (DES footprint is about 5,000 square degrees). It also includes science-specific value-added catalogs to perform cosmological analysis, simulated data, photometric distances, morphological catalogs and a large number of other products.

The DES images observed each night during the survey operations are transferred to NCSA from the DECam telescope in Chile over a high-speed network. Using the Blue Waters supercomputer, Illinois Campus Cluster Program, and the Open Science Grid at Fermilab, the DESDM team first processes all of the images.

After each individual exposure has been processed, the DESDM team combines all of the images with the help of Blue Waters in order to create a full and deep map of the southern sky, allowing the DES project to achieve depth.

The DES Data Management is a collaboration led by NCSA and also includes the National Optical Astronomy Observatory, and Fermilab.

The information contained within these catalogs allows researchers to understand better what is causing the acceleration of the Universe and what is its content.

“This data, combined with other cosmological data sets, can provide unprecedented constraints on our cosmological models even by the fact that is only close to one third of what’s expected in the coming years,” notes Matias Carrasco Kind, the DES Data Release Scientist from NCSA.

“There are many publications using this data, but the amount of scientific information contained within these catalogs is almost limitless and we are exciting to let the astronomical community to extract even more knowledge not only from this, but also from all of our public datasets, this is just the beginning of a precision cosmology era,” added Carrasco Kind.

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