Donnacha Kirk

University College London, Londinium, England, United Kingdom

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Publications (29)78.15 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: This overview article describes the legacy prospect and discovery potential of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) beyond cosmological studies, illustrating it with examples from the DES early data. DES is using a wide-field camera (DECam) on the 4m Blanco Telescope in Chile to image 5000 sq deg of the sky in five filters (grizY). By its completion the survey is expected to have generated a catalogue of 300 million galaxies with photometric redshifts and 100 million stars. In addition, a time-domain survey search over 27 sq deg is expected to yield a sample of thousands of Type Ia supernovae and other transients. The main goals of DES are to characterise dark energy and dark matter, and to test alternative models of gravity; these goals will be pursued by studying large scale structure, cluster counts, weak gravitational lensing and Type Ia supernovae. However, DES also provides a rich data set which allows us to study many other aspects of astrophysics. In this paper we focus on additional science with DES, emphasizing areas where the survey makes a difference with respect to other current surveys. The paper illustrates, using early data (from `Science Verification', and from the first, second and third seasons of observations), what DES can tell us about the solar system, the Milky Way, galaxy evolution, quasars, and other topics. In addition, we show that if the cosmological model is assumed to be Lambda+ Cold Dark Matter (LCDM) then important astrophysics can be deduced from the primary DES probes. Highlights from DES early data include the discovery of 34 Trans Neptunian Objects, 17 dwarf satellites of the Milky Way, one published z > 6 quasar (and more confirmed) and two published superluminous supernovae (and more confirmed).
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016
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    ABSTRACT: We measure the cross-correlation between weak lensing of galaxy images and of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). The effects of gravitational lensing on different sources will be correlated if the lensing is caused by the same mass fluctuations. We use galaxy shape measurements from 139 deg$^{2}$ of the Dark Energy Survey (DES) Science Verification data and overlapping CMB lensing from the South Pole Telescope (SPT) and Planck. The DES source galaxies have a median redshift of $z_{\rm med} {\sim} 0.7$, while the CMB lensing kernel is broad and peaks at $z{\sim}2$. The resulting cross-correlation is maximally sensitive to mass fluctuations at $z{\sim}0.44$. Assuming the Planck 2015 best-fit cosmology, the amplitude of the DES$\times$SPT cross-power is found to be $A = 0.88 \pm 0.30$ and that from DES$\times$Planck to be $A = 0.86 \pm 0.39$, where $A=1$ corresponds to the theoretical prediction. These are consistent with the expected signal and correspond to significances of $2.9 \sigma$ and $2.2 \sigma$ respectively. We demonstrate that our results are robust to a number of important systematic effects including the shear measurement method, estimator choice, photometric redshift uncertainty and CMB lensing systematics. Significant intrinsic alignment of galaxy shapes would increase the cross-correlation signal inferred from the data; we calculate a value of $A = 1.08 \pm 0.36$ for DES$\times$SPT when we correct the observations with a simple IA model. With three measurements of this cross-correlation now existing in the literature, there is not yet reliable evidence for any deviation from the expected LCDM level of cross-correlation, given the size of the statistical uncertainties and the significant impact of systematic errors, particularly IAs. We provide forecasts for the expected signal-to-noise of the combination of the five-year DES survey and SPT-3G.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2015

  • No preview · Article · Nov 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We present the first constraints on cosmology from the Dark Energy Survey (DES), using weak lensing measurements from the preliminary Science Verification (SV) data. We use 139 square degrees of SV data, which is less than 3\% of the full DES survey area. Using cosmic shear 2-point measurements over three redshift bins we find $\sigma_8 (\Omega_{\rm m}/0.3)^{0.5} = 0.81 \pm 0.06$ (68\% confidence), after marginalising over 7 systematics parameters and 3 other cosmological parameters. We examine the robustness of our results to the choice of data vector and systematics assumed, and find them to be stable. About $20$\% of our error bar comes from marginalising over shear and photometric redshift calibration uncertainties. The current state-of-the-art cosmic shear measurements from CFHTLenS are mildly discrepant with the cosmological constraints from Planck CMB data; our results are consistent with both datasets. Our uncertainties are $\sim$30\% larger than those from CFHTLenS when we carry out a comparable analysis of the two datasets, which we attribute largely to the lower number density of our shear catalogue. We investigate constraints on dark energy and find that, with this small fraction of the full survey, the DES SV constraints make negligible impact on the Planck constraints. The moderate disagreement between the CFHTLenS and Planck values of $\sigma_8 (\Omega_{\rm m}/0.3)^{0.5}$ is present regardless of the value of $w$.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We present measurements of weak gravitational lensing cosmic shear two-point statistics using Dark Energy Survey Science Verification data. We demonstrate that our results are robust to the choice of shear measurement pipeline, either ngmix or im3shape, and robust to the choice of two-point statistic, including both real and Fourier-space statistics. Our results pass a suite of null tests including tests for B-mode contamination and direct tests for any dependence of the two-point functions on a set of 16 observing conditions and galaxy properties, such as seeing, airmass, galaxy color, galaxy magnitude, etc. We furthermore use a large suite of simulations to compute the covariance matrix of the cosmic shear measurements and assign statistical significance to our null tests. We find that our covariance matrix is consistent with the halo model prediction, indicating that it has the appropriate level of halo sample variance. We compare the same jackknife procedure applied to the data and the simulations in order to search for additional sources of noise not captured by the simulations. We find no statistically significant extra sources of noise in the data. The overall detection significance with tomography for our highest source density catalog is 9.7sigma. Cosmological constraints from the measurements in this work are presented in a companion paper (DES et al. 2015).
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We measure the cross-correlation between the galaxy density in the Dark Energy Survey (DES) Science Verification data and the lensing of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) as reconstructed with the Planck satellite and the South Pole Telescope (SPT). When using the DES main galaxy sample over the full redshift range 0.2 < zphot < 1.2, a cross-correlation signal is detected at 6σ and 4σ with SPT and Planck , respectively. We then divide the DES galaxies into five photometric redshift bins, finding significant (>2σ) detections in all bins. Comparing to the fiducial Planck cosmology, we find the redshift evolution of the signal matches expectations, although the amplitude is consistently lower than predicted across redshift bins. We test for possible systematics that could affect our result and find no evidence for significant contamination. Finally, we demonstrate how these measurements can be used to constrain the growth of structure across cosmic time. We find the data are fit by a model in which the amplitude of structure in the z < 1.2 universe is 0.73 ± 0.16 times as large as predicted in the Λ cold dark matter Planck cosmology, a 1.7σ deviation.
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: The alignments between galaxies, their underlying matter structures, and the cosmic web constitute vital ingredients for a comprehensive understanding of gravity, the nature of matter, and structure formation in the Universe. We provide an overview on the state of the art in the study of these alignment processes and their observational signatures, aimed at a non-specialist audience. The development of the field over the past one hundred years is briefly reviewed. We also discuss the impact of galaxy alignments on measurements of weak gravitational lensing, and discuss avenues for making theoretical and observational progress over the coming decade.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015 · Space Science Reviews
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    ABSTRACT: Galaxy shapes are not randomly oriented, rather they are statistically aligned in a way that can depend on formation environment, history and galaxy type. Studying the alignment of galaxies can therefore deliver important information about the astrophysics of galaxy formation and evolution as well as the growth of structure in the Universe. In this review paper we summarise key measurements of intrinsic alignments, divided by galaxy type, scale and environment. We also cover the statistics and formalism necessary to understand the observations in the literature. With the emergence of weak gravitational lensing as a precision probe of cosmology, galaxy alignments took on an added importance because they can mimic cosmic shear, the effect of gravitational lensing by large-scale structure on observed galaxy shapes. This makes intrinsic alignments an important systematic effect in weak lensing studies. We quantify the impact of intrinsic alignments on cosmic shear surveys and finish by reviewing practical mitigation techniques which attempt to remove contamination by intrinsic alignments.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Space Science Reviews
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    ABSTRACT: The shapes of galaxies are not randomly oriented on the sky. During the galaxy formation and evolution process, environment has a strong influence, as tidal gravitational fields in large-scale structure tend to align the shapes and angular momenta of nearby galaxies. Additionally, events such as galaxy mergers affect the relative alignments of galaxies throughout their history. These "intrinsic galaxy alignments" are known to exist, but are still poorly understood. This review will offer a pedagogical introduction to the current theories that describe intrinsic galaxy alignments, including the apparent difference in intrinsic alignment between early- and late-type galaxies and the latest efforts to model them analytically. It will then describe the ongoing efforts to simulate intrinsic alignments using both $N$-body and hydrodynamic simulations. Due to the relative youth of this field, there is still much to be done to understand intrinsic galaxy alignments and this review summarises the current state of the field, providing a solid basis for future work.
    Preview · Article · Apr 2015 · Space Science Reviews
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    ABSTRACT: The Square Kilometer Array (SKA) has the potential to produce galaxy redshift surveys which will be competitive with other state of the art cosmological experiments in the next decade. In this chapter we summarise what capabilities the first and the second phases of the SKA will be able to achieve in its current state of design. We summarise the different cosmological experiments which are outlined in further detail in other chapters of this Science Book. The SKA will be able to produce competitive Baryonic Oscillation (BAOs) measurements in both its phases. The first phase of the SKA will provide similar measurements as optical and IR experiments with completely different systematic effects whereas the second phase being transformational in terms of its statistical power. The SKA will produce very accurate Redshift Space Distortions (RSD) measurements, being superior to other experiments at lower redshifts, due to the large number of galaxies. Cross correlations of the galaxy redshift data from the SKA with radio continuum surveys and optical surveys will provide extremely good calibration of photometric redshifts as well as extremely good bounds on modifications of gravity. Basing on a Principle Component Analysis (PCA) approach, we find that the SKA will be able to provide competitive constraints on dark energy and modified gravity models. Due to the large area covered the SKA it will be a transformational experiment in measuring physics from the largest scales such as non-Gaussian signals from $\textrm{f}_{\textrm{nl}}$. Finally, the SKA might produce the first real time measurement of the redshift drift. The SKA will be a transformational machine for cosmology as it grows from an early Phase 1 to its full power.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
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    ABSTRACT: We provide an overview of the science benefits of combining information from the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST). We first summarise the capabilities and timeline of the LSST and overview its science goals. We then discuss the science questions in common between the two projects, and how they can be best addressed by combining the data from both telescopes. We describe how weak gravitational lensing and galaxy clustering studies with LSST and SKA can provide improved constraints on the causes of the cosmological acceleration. We summarise the benefits to galaxy evolution studies of combining deep optical multi-band imaging with radio observations. Finally, we discuss the excellent match between one of the most unique features of the LSST, its temporal cadence in the optical waveband, and the time resolution of the SKA.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2015
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    ABSTRACT: By the time that the first phase of the Square Kilometre Array is deployed it will be able to perform state of the art Large Scale Structure (LSS) as well as Weak Gravitational Lensing (WGL) measurements of the distribution of matter in the Universe. In this chapter we concentrate on the synergies that result from cross-correlating these different SKA data products as well as external correlation with the weak lensing measurements available from CMB missions. We show that the Dark Energy figures of merit obtained individually from WGL/LSS measurements and their independent combination is significantly increased when their full cross-correlations are taken into account. This is due to the increased knowledge of galaxy bias as a function of redshift as well as the extra information from the different cosmological dependences of the cross-correlations. We show that the cross-correlation between a spectroscopic LSS sample and a weak lensing sample with photometric redshifts can calibrate these same photometric redshifts, and their scatter, to high accuracy by modelling them as nuisance parameters and fitting them simultaneously cosmology. Finally we show that Modified Gravity parameters are greatly constrained by this cross-correlations because weak lensing and redshift space distortions (from the LSS survey) break strong degeneracies in common parameterisations of modified gravity.
    Preview · Article · Jan 2015
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    Justin Alsing · Donnacha Kirk · Alan Heavens · Andrew H. Jaffe
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    ABSTRACT: Weak lensing can be observed through a number of effects on the images of distant galaxies; their shapes are sheared, their sizes and fluxes (magnitudes) are magnified and their positions on the sky are modified by the lensing field. Galaxy shapes probe the shear field whilst size, magnitude and number density probe the convergence field. Both contain cosmological information. In this paper we are concerned with the magnification of the size and magnitude of individual galaxies as a probe of cosmic convergence. We develop a Bayesian approach for inferring the convergence field from a measured size, magnitude and redshift and demonstrate that the inference on convergence requires detailed knowledge of the joint distribution of intrinsic sizes and magnitudes. We build a simple parameterised model for the size-magnitude distribution and estimate this distribution for CFHTLenS galaxies. In light of the measured distribution, we show that the typical dispersion on convergence estimation is ~0.8, compared to ~0.38 for shear. We discuss the possibility of physical systematics for magnification (similar to intrinsic alignments for shear) and compute the expected gains in the Dark Energy Figure-of-Merit (FoM) from combining magnification with shear for different scenarios regarding systematics: when accounting for intrinsic alignments but no systematics on the magnification signal, including magnification could improve the FoM by upto a factor of ~2.5, whilst when accounting for physical systematics in both shear and magnification we anticipate a gain between ~25% and ~65%. In addition to the statistical gains, the fact that cosmic shear and magnification are subject to different systematics makes magnification an attractive complement to any cosmic shear analysis.
    Full-text · Article · Oct 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: There is currently no consistent approach to modelling galaxy bias evolution in cosmological inference. This lack of a common standard makes the rigorous comparison or combination of probes difficult. We show that the choice of biasing model has a significant impact on cosmological parameter constraints for a survey such as the Dark Energy Survey (DES), considering the two-point correlations of galaxies in five tomographic redshift bins. We find that modelling galaxy bias with a free biasing parameter per redshift bin gives a Figure of Merit (FoM) for dark energy equation of state parameters w0, wa smaller by a factor of 10 than if a constant bias is assumed. An incorrect bias model will also cause a shift in measured values of cosmological parameters. Motivated by these points and focusing on the redshift evolution of linear bias, we propose the use of a generalized galaxy bias which encompasses a range of bias models from theory, observations and simulations, b(z) = c + (b0 − c)/D(z)α, where parameters c, b0 and α depend on galaxy properties such as halo mass. For a DES-like galaxy survey, we find that this model gives an unbiased estimate of w0, wa with the same number or fewer nuisance parameters and a higher FoM than a simple b(z) model allowed to vary in z-bins. We show how the parameters of this model are correlated with cosmological parameters. We fit a range of bias models to two recent data sets, and conclude that this generalized parametrization is a sensible benchmark expression of galaxy bias on large scales.
    Preview · Article · May 2014 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: With the advent of wide-field surveys, cosmology has entered a new golden age of data where our cosmological model and the nature of dark universe will be tested with unprecedented accuracy, so that we can strive for high precision cosmology. Observational probes like weak lensing, galaxy surveys and the cosmic microwave background as well as other observations will all contribute to these advances. These different probes trace the underlying expansion history and growth of structure in complementary ways and can be combined in order to extract cosmological parameters as best as possible. With future wide-field surveys, observational overlap means these will trace the same physical underlying dark matter distribution, and extra care must be taken when combining information from different probes. Consideration of probe combination is a fundamental aspect of cosmostatistics and important to ensure optimal use of future wide-field surveys.
    No preview · Article · May 2014 · Proceedings of the International Astronomical Union
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    ABSTRACT: The combination of multiple cosmological probes can produce measurements of cosmological parameters much more stringent than those possible with any individual probe. We examine the combination of two highly correlated probes of late-time structure growth: (i) weak gravitational lensing from a survey with photometric redshifts and (ii) galaxy clustering and redshift space distortions from a survey with spectroscopic redshifts. We choose generic survey designs so that our results are applicable to a range of current and future photometric redshift (e.g. KiDS, DES, HSC, Euclid) and spectroscopic redshift (e.g. DESI, 4MOST, Sumire) surveys. Combining the surveys greatly improves their power to measure both dark energy and modified gravity. An independent, non-overlapping combination sees a dark energy figure of merit more than 4 times larger than that produced by either survey alone. The powerful synergies between the surveys are strongest for modified gravity, where their constraints are orthogonal, producing a non-overlapping joint figure of merit nearly 2 orders of magnitude larger than either alone. Our projected angular power spectrum formalism makes it easy to model the cross-correlation observable when the surveys overlap on the sky, producing a joint data vector and full covariance matrix. We calculate a same-sky improvement factor, from the inclusion of these cross-correlations, relative to non-overlapping surveys. We find nearly a factor of 4 for dark energy and more than a factor of 2 for modified gravity. The exact forecast figures of merit and same-sky benefits can be radically affected by a range of forecasts assumption, which we explore methodically in a sensitivity analysis. We show that that our fiducial assumptions produce robust results which give a good average picture of the science return from combining photometric and spectroscopic surveys.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: The next generation of spectroscopic surveys will have a wealth of photometric data available for use in target selection. Selecting the best targets is likely to be one of the most important hurdles in making these spectroscopic campaigns as successful as possible. Our ability to measure dark energy depends strongly on the types of targets that we are able to select with a given photometric data set. We show in this paper that we will be able to successfully select the targets needed for the next generation of spectroscopic surveys. We also investigate the details of this selection, including optimization of instrument design and survey strategy in order to measure dark energy. We use colour–colour selection as well as neural networks to select the best possible emission-line galaxies and luminous red galaxies for a cosmological survey. Using the Fisher matrix formalism, we forecast the efficiency of each target selection scenarios. We show how the dark energy figures of merit change in each target selection regime as a function of target type, survey time, survey density and other survey parameters. We outline the optimal target selection scenarios and survey strategy choices which will be available to the next generation of spectroscopic surveys.
    Preview · Article · Jul 2013 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: We address the problem of separating stars from galaxies in future large photometric surveys. We focus our analysis on simulations of the Dark Energy Survey (DES). In the first part of the paper, we derive the science requirements on star/galaxy separation, for measurement of the cosmological parameters with the gravitational weak lensing and large-scale structure probes. These requirements are dictated by the need to control both the statistical and systematic errors on the cosmological parameters, and by point spread function calibration. We formulate the requirements in terms of the completeness and purity provided by a given star/galaxy classifier. In order to achieve these requirements at faint magnitudes, we propose a new method for star/galaxy separation in the second part of the paper. We first use principal component analysis to outline the correlations between the objects parameters and extract from it the most relevant information. We then use the reduced set of parameters as input to an Artificial Neural Network. This multiparameter approach improves upon purely morphometric classifiers (such as the classifier implemented in SExtractor), especially at faint magnitudes: it increases the purity by up to 20 per cent for stars and by up to 12 per cent for galaxies, at i-magnitude fainter than 23.
    Full-text · Article · Jun 2013 · Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
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    ABSTRACT: Distributed as an Instant Email Notice Supernovae Credential Certification: Masao Sako (masao@sas.upenn.edu) Subjects: Optical, Supernovae Referred to by ATel #: 4725, 4741, 4800, 4826 First SN Discoveries from the Dark Energy Survey The Dark Energy Survey (DES) report the discovery of the first set of supernovae (SN) from the project. Images were observed as part of the DES Science Verification phase using the newly-installed 570-Megapixel Dark Energy Camera on the CTIO Blanco 4-m telescope by observers J. Annis, E. Buckley-Geer, and H. Lin. SN observations are planned throughout the observing campaign on a regular cadence of 4-6 days in each of the ten 3-deg2 fields in the DES griz filters. The SN candidates are named according to the season and field in which they were discovered. We adopt the convention -- DES{season}{field}{index} -- where {season} is the year pertaining to the beginning of each observing season, {field} denotes one of the ten SN search fields (E1,E2,S1,S2,X1,X2,X3,C1,C2,C3) in Elais-S1 (E), Stripe 82 (S), XMM-LSS (X) and CDF-S (C), and {index} is one or more lower-case letters starting from a-z, then aa-az, and so on. The DES SN Survey strategy is described in Bernstein et al. (2012, ApJ, 753, 152). Spectroscopic classifications were performed by the OzDES collaboration from spectra (350-900 nm) obtained at the Anglo-Australian Telescope with AAOmega-2dF observed by C. Lidman, R. Sharp, and S. A. Uddin. Classifications were performed using Superfit (Howell et al 2002, BAAS, 34, 1256) or SNID (Blondin & Tonry, 2007, ApJ, 666, 1024). Redshifts measured from narrow galaxy lines are quoted to 3 significant figures. Those measured from broad SN features are quoted to 2 significant figures. SN phases are based on both the optical spectra and multi-band light curves at the time of the spectroscopic measurements. Name | RA(J2000) | Dec(J2000) | Discovery date (UT) | Discovery r mag| Spectrum date (UT) | redshift | type | phase DES12C1a | 03:38:54.5 | -27:32:28.2 | 2012 Dec 07 | 22.0 | 2012 Dec 13 | 0.303 | Ia | near max DES12C1b | 03:35:05.8 | -26:45:53.9 | 2012 Dec 07 | 20.9 | 2012 Dec 13 | 0.243 | Ia | near max DES12C2a | 03:41:13.1 | -28:59:37.9 | 2012 Dec 04 | 21.5 | 2012 Dec 14 | 0.21 | Ia | near max
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2012
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    ABSTRACT: We describe an initiative to build and use the Dark Energy Spectrometer (DESpec), a wide-field spectroscopic survey instrument for the Blanco 4 meter telescope at Cerro Tololo InterAmerican Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. A new system with about 4000 robotically positioned optical fibers will be interchangeable with the CCD imager of the existing Dark Energy Camera (DECam), accessing a field of view of 3.8 square degrees in a single exposure. The proposed instrument will be operated by CTIO and available for use by the astronomy community. Our collaboration proposes to use DESpec to conduct a wide, deep spectroscopic survey to study Dark Energy. In a survey of about 350 nights, the DESpec collaboration proposes to obtain spectroscopic redshifts for about 8 million galaxies over 5000 square degrees selected from the Dark Energy Survey (DES). This Dark Energy Spectroscopic Survey will advance our knowledge of cosmic expansion and structure growth significantly beyond that obtainable with imaging-only surveys. Since it adds a spectroscopic third dimension to the same sky as DES, DESpec will enable increasingly precise techniques to discriminate among alternative explanations of cosmic acceleration, such as Dark Energy and Modified Gravity.
    Full-text · Article · Sep 2012