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Il primo film al mondo del nostro Universo sarà anche il 'più grande film mai realizzato' e sarà prodotto da astronomi provenienti da tutto il mondo. Il film, che potrebbe descrivere fenomeni come asteroidi pericolosi per la Terra e scoprire alcuni dei misteri come la materia oscura e l'energia oscura, verrà registrato sulla più grande macchina fotografica digitale al mondo: il Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST), che sarà in grado di prendere le immagini del cielo che coprono più di 40 volte l'area della Luna.  Ciò significa miliardi di galassie, stelle e oggetti del sistema solare che si vedranno per la prima volta insieme nonostante siano monitorati da più di dieci anni.  

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The World’s first motion picture of our Universe - which is being dubbed the ‘greatest movie ever made’ - is to be produced by astronomers from across the world, including The University of Manchester. The film, which could feature dangerous asteroids and uncover some of the mysteries of dark matter and dark energy, will be recorded on the world’s largest digital camera.

When it is completed, the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will be able to take images of the sky that cover over 40 times the area of the moon, building up a survey of the entire visible sky in just three nights. That means billions of galaxies, stars and solar system objects will be seen for the first time, and monitored over ten years. UK astronomers will now play a key part after funding from the Science and Technology Facilities Council confirmed the UK’s participation.

“What is unique about LSST is that each of its images covers a large area of sky to a depth that captures faint objects, and that it takes these images really quickly”, said Project Scientist Sarah Bridle, from The University of Manchester. “That combination of area, depth and speed means that we can do lots of different science with the same dataset.”

LSST will build up a very detailed map of billions of galaxies, with approximate distances to each, from which we will learn about the mysterious dark energy that seems to be accelerating the expansion of the Universe. But, equally, it will look for changes in the sky from night to night; both moving objects, like asteroids, and new ones, like supernovae, that appear where nothing had been seen before. Covering each patch of sky over 800 times during its decade of operations, it will construct the very first motion picture of the Universe.

When it starts operating, it will generate one of the largest scientific datasets in the World.  The LSST is a ‘synoptic’ survey because it will form an overall view of the Universe: billions of objects will be imaged in six colours, spanning a volume of the Universe that is larger than any previously explored.

Steven Kahn, the LSST Director said: “I am delighted that STFC is supporting UK participation in LSST. It is great to see UK astronomers engaging in preparation for LSST, and we look forward to seeing our collaboration develop over the coming years. LSST will be one of the foremost astronomy projects in the next decades and the UK astronomical community will contribute strongly to its success. The telescope is being built in the Chilean Andes. Conditions there are some of the driest on Earth, making it the ideal position for observing.”

The LSST will provide unprecedented access to data, allowing for new kinds of citizen science and discovery. Discoveries made by the LSST will also be used to construct educational materials that will be freely available to schools and the public.

The telescope will achieve first light in 2020, and its main sky survey will begin in 2022. Like all good movie franchises, the LSST story will unfold in stages, from a preview in 2023 to a finale in 2033.

About The University of Manchester

The University of Manchester, a member of the prestigious Russell Group of British universities, is the largest and most popular university in the UK. It has 20 academic schools and hundreds of specialist research groups undertaking pioneering multi-disciplinary teaching and research of worldwide significance.

The University of Manchester is one of the country’s major research institutions, rated fifth in the UK in terms of ‘research power’ (REF 2014), and has had no fewer than 25 Nobel laureates either work or study there. The University had an annual income of £886 million in 2013/14.

About the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST)

The LSST will be sited at Cerro Pachón in the Chilean Andes at an altitude of 2715m. The primary mirror diameter is 8.4m, making it one of the largest single telescopes in the world. It also contains secondary and tertiary mirrors with diameters of 3.4m and 5.2m respectively. It will contain the world’s largest digital camera, comprising 3.2 billion pixels (3200 Mpix) in a circular array of 189 detectors. The size of the camera detector is 63cm across. It will generate 30 Terabytes (30,000 Gb) of data every night.

It will achieve first light in 2020 and its main sky survey will begin in 2022. The scale of the technical challenges involved in storing and analyzing LSST’s data are daunting, and researchers are already heavily engaged on the project.

About the Science and Technology Facilities Council

The Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) is keeping the UK at the forefront of international science and tackling some of the most significant challenges facing society such as meeting our future energy needs, monitoring and understanding climate change, and global security. The Council has a broad science portfolio and works with the academic and industrial communities to share its expertise in materials science, space and ground-based astronomy technologies, laser science, microelectronics, wafer scale manufacturing, particle and nuclear physics, alternative energy production, radio communications and radar.

STFC operates or hosts world class experimental facilities including in the UK the ISIS pulsed neutron source, the Central Laser Facility, and LOFAR, and is also the majority shareholder in Diamond Light Source Ltd. It enables UK researchers to access leading international science facilities by funding membership of international bodies including European Laboratory for Particle Physics (CERN), the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL), European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

STFC is one of seven publicly-funded research councils. It is an independent, non-departmental public body of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

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