The search for the first stars and the hunt for dark energy both feature in a new planetarium show narrated by Geoffrey Rush. The show premiered in March 2016 at the Melbourne Planetarium and will be seen in planetariums around the world.
“I hope this show conveys some of the wonder of the Universe we live in,” says Professor Elaine Sadler, Director of the ARC Centre of Excellence for All-sky Astrophysics (CAASTRO).
‘Capturing the Cosmos’ was created by Melbourne Planetarium and CAASTRO, and features the work of two of Australia’s new telescopes, the Murchison Widefield Array and Skymapper.
“The Universe was once just a big fog of hydrogen,” explains Melbourne Planetarium’s Dr Tanya Hill, writer and director of the show.
“You couldn’t have seen much until the first stars and galaxies formed, but we don’t know when or how this moment occurred – it’s a crucial gap in our understanding of the evolution of the Universe which the Murchison Widefield Array is working to solve.”
The radio telescope, based at a remote Western Australian desert site, is a testbed of the technology to be used for the Square Kilometre Array.
Meanwhile, optical telescope SkyMapper is looking for dark energy from its location in central New South Wales.
“Dark energy is like the wind: you can’t see it but you can see its effects, particularly on distant supernovae,” says Tanya.
“We think the Universe is expanding at a faster rate because of dark energy, but we’re still working out what exactly dark energy is.”
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Banner image: A type 1a supernova from ‘Capturing the Cosmos’. Credit: Museum Victoria