Written by By Staff Writer Staff Writer
Tafton Arca, Chile (CNN) — On a deep, barren scar of the Earth, in the middle of Chile’s desert, researchers are looking for alien life, dark energy and — of course — unusual meteors.
Dubbed “La Navidad,” the Atacama Dark Energy Survey — or ATLAS — seeks to map the universe’s mysterious dark energy, an energy imbalance believed to exist somewhere between 13.3 and 13.6 billion years ago. Dark energy has an influence on the universe that causes galaxies to spiral away from each other, rewiring the fabric of space and time. The scale of its influence is as simple as a photon touching a distant star’s surface.
One of the main reasons to study dark energy is that it’s all over the place, unknown even to the universe’s brightest astronomers. ATLAS has asked more than 1,700 astronomers from 34 countries to look for low-frequency signals emanating from the planet’s dark energy source.
Using special audio locators, high-tech sensors are able to track faint echoes left by dark energy. Scientists believe that the source could be a large pulsar, or a star consuming a neutron star. There could also be remnants of another star — an old giant star whose exhausts began to decay and gave way to a neutron star, for example.