In 1917, Einstein realized that his new theory of general relativity wasn’t quite working when applied to space and time. This is because he didn’t know that the universe was expanding. To combat the inconsistencies in his equations, he factored in a theoretical force that would balance things out — he called that part the cosmological constant.

In the 1920s, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was, in fact, expanding — and not static. Once Einstein knew the universe was expanding, he discarded his cosmological constant theory and later called it “the biggest blunder of his life.”

Fast forward 90 years and the world’s most powerful digital camera has photographed the very thing that Einstein felt was the biggest blunder of his life: dark energy.

Another theory, however, suggests that dark energy is a new force and will eventually fade away just as it arose, but that is somewhat beside the point.

The point is, there is a new, totally badass camera that can photograph the affects of dark energy on space and time — and do so from a mountaintop in Chile.

What is Dark Energy?

According to NASA’s Astrophysics division, more is unknown than is known about dark energy. We know it is there because of how it affects the universe’s expansion, but that’s about it. Most scientists currently believe that roughly 70 percent of the Universe is dark energy, 25 percent is dark matter, and the rest — everything we’ve ever observed from Earth — makes up the remaining 5 percent.

Makes ya feel kind of small, eh?

Why is the Dark Energy Camera Significant?

The official press release states:

Eight billion years ago, rays of light from distant galaxies began their long journey to Earth. That ancient starlight has now found its way to a mountaintop in Chile, where the newly constructed Dark Energy Camera, the most powerful sky-mapping machine ever created, has captured and recorded it for the first time.

The Dark Energy Camera is the most powerful survey instrument of its kind, and light from over 100,000 galaxies up to 8 billion light years away is able to be viewed in each snapshot.

In December, after the camera has been fully tested, scientists in the Dark Energy Survey collaboration will use the new camera to carry out the largest galaxy survey ever undertaken. Over the next five years they will basically create a detailed color map of one-eighth of the sky, discovering and measuring 300 million galaxies, 100,000 galaxy clusters and 4,000 supernovae.

Read more about the Dark Energy Camera and check out the video below for a cool timelapse of the camera’s construction below:

Photo: The Blanco telescope in Chile. Credit: T. Abbott and NOAO/AURA/NSF