Sat on top of a mountain in Chile is the world's most powerful digital camera. Known as the Dark Energy Camera, it's recently been fired up to image the night sky, in an attempt to find the exotic stuff that gets all physicists excited. These are the first images it's produced. And they're magnificent.

The camera, which took eight years to plan and construct, boasts a sensor packed with 570 megapixels assembled from 62 charged-coupled devices to soak up light that's travelled millions of lightyears. These first images were captured just days ago, on the evening of the 12th September.

Pictured above is the center of the globular star cluster 47 Tucanae, which lies about 17,000 light years from Earth, while below is a close-up of the barred spiral galaxy NGC 1365, in the Fornax cluster of galaxies, which lies about 60 million light years from Earth.


These images don't offer much insight into the origins of dark energy, but in the long term the folks at Fermilab, who run the camera, hope that will change. For now, though, these images are sure as hell pretty. [Fermilab]

Images by Dark Energy Survey Collaboration