Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

QUIET Team to Deploy New Gravity-Wave Probe in June

19.05.2009
The international QUIET collaboration is searching for remnants of the radiation emitted at the earliest moments of the universe, when gravity waves rippled through the very fabric of space-time itself.

A tiny fraction of a second following the big bang, the universe allegedly experienced the most inflationary period it has ever known.

During this inflationary era, space expanded faster than the speed of light. It sounds crazy, but it fits a variety of cosmological observations made in recent years, said University of Chicago physicist Bruce Winstein.

“Theorists take it to be true, but we have to prove it,” said Winstein, the Samuel K. Allison Distinguished Service Professor in Physics at the University of Chicago. “It needs a real test, and that test is whether or not gravity waves were created.”

Winstein and his Chicago associates are part of the international QUIET (Q/U Imaging ExperimenT; the Q and U stand for radiation parameters called Stokes parameters) collaboration that has devised such a test.

QUIET’s goal: detect remnants of the radiation emitted at the earliest moments of the universe, when gravity waves rippled through the very fabric of space-time itself.

The intensive gravitational fields that existed at these earliest moments, according to Einstein, produced gravity waves that alternatively compressed and expanded space, first in one direction, then another. The cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation—the afterglow of the big bang—may still carry a faint signature of those gravitational waves, nearly 14 billion years after their creation.

Seeking ethereal quarry

Other collaborations, including the South Pole Telescope (SPT), seek the same ethereal quarry with different techniques. The University of Chicago’s Kavli Institute of Cosmological Physics supports both projects.

“No one can say what the best approach is right now,” Winstein said, “but we need a variety of attacks on this important problem, and ours is different from most of the others. It’s very exciting to be in this game.”

At stake is the potential elucidation of new physics, that which falls outside the scope of the standard model. This model, a set of theories that describes the behavior of matter and energy in the universe, cannot explain how points in the sky too far away to have ever been in contact have almost exactly the same temperature. A validation of inflation would solve that problem.

“If we see these gravity waves, they have been called the smoking gun of inflation,” Winstein said.

The QUIET experiment began operating last October with an antenna array that contains 19 detectors. Since then, QUIET collaborators at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California have produced 91 detectors sensitive to the radiation at a higher frequency.

Over the past several months, the Chicago collaboration has assembled and calibrated these 91 detectors in the basement of the Laboratory for Astrophysics and Space Research.

Winstein’s team has tested each detector, adjusting 10 critical voltages for each to yield the best performance. Correctly optimized voltages can improve detector performance by a large factor, Winstein said, making it possible to observe in one day what would have otherwise required a week. This newer, more sensitive array will begin operating in June.

High and dry operation

The QUIET experiment operates in Chile’s Atacama Desert, at an altitude of 17,000 feet. “It’s very dry, and that’s important because this microwave radiation gets absorbed by water vapor,” Winstein explained. “And we observe day and night, 10 to 11 months a year.”

Observations will continue at least until the end of this year. The team must keep its detectors at a chilling minus 253 degrees Celsius (minus 423 degrees Fahrenheit, close to absolute zero) to boost the odds of detecting the extremely weak gravity-wave signals. These signals would be so weak that electronic noise could easily drown them out.

“One way to eliminate electronic noise is to get your detector very, very cold,” said QUIET’s Allison Brizius, a graduate student in physics. “The colder it gets, the quieter it gets, the better it can pick up a signal.”

The QUIET experiment must both detect and amplify the signal, which puts out only about a billionth of a volt.

“We have to be very careful with such small signals not to introduce any other noise,” Winstein said. “We’ve demonstrated that this technology works, and we’re proposing to mass-produce these modules, nearly 2,000 of them.”

Winstein comes from a particle physics background, a veteran of 30 years of experimental research at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, which also plays a role in QUIET. As a particle physicist, he was exploring physics at the highest energies that an accelerator could then achieve.

Now, as a cosmological physicist probing the CMB, he stands on the brink of reaching nearly to the Planck scale, the highest energies that the universe can create. The CMB, he said, is “probably our best handle on the overall structure of the universe and how it was born.”

Steve Koppes | Newswise Science News
Further information:
http://www.uchicago.edu

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Hope to discover sure signs of life on Mars? New research says look for the element vanadium
22.09.2017 | University of Kansas

nachricht Calculating quietness
22.09.2017 | Forschungszentrum MATHEON ECMath

All articles from Physics and Astronomy >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: The pyrenoid is a carbon-fixing liquid droplet

Plants and algae use the enzyme Rubisco to fix carbon dioxide, removing it from the atmosphere and converting it into biomass. Algae have figured out a way to increase the efficiency of carbon fixation. They gather most of their Rubisco into a ball-shaped microcompartment called the pyrenoid, which they flood with a high local concentration of carbon dioxide. A team of scientists at Princeton University, the Carnegie Institution for Science, Stanford University and the Max Plank Institute of Biochemistry have unravelled the mysteries of how the pyrenoid is assembled. These insights can help to engineer crops that remove more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere while producing more food.

A warming planet

Im Focus: Highly precise wiring in the Cerebral Cortex

Our brains house extremely complex neuronal circuits, whose detailed structures are still largely unknown. This is especially true for the so-called cerebral cortex of mammals, where among other things vision, thoughts or spatial orientation are being computed. Here the rules by which nerve cells are connected to each other are only partly understood. A team of scientists around Moritz Helmstaedter at the Frankfiurt Max Planck Institute for Brain Research and Helene Schmidt (Humboldt University in Berlin) have now discovered a surprisingly precise nerve cell connectivity pattern in the part of the cerebral cortex that is responsible for orienting the individual animal or human in space.

The researchers report online in Nature (Schmidt et al., 2017. Axonal synapse sorting in medial entorhinal cortex, DOI: 10.1038/nature24005) that synapses in...

Im Focus: Tiny lasers from a gallery of whispers

New technique promises tunable laser devices

Whispering gallery mode (WGM) resonators are used to make tiny micro-lasers, sensors, switches, routers and other devices. These tiny structures rely on a...

Im Focus: Ultrafast snapshots of relaxing electrons in solids

Using ultrafast flashes of laser and x-ray radiation, scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics (Garching, Germany) took snapshots of the briefest electron motion inside a solid material to date. The electron motion lasted only 750 billionths of the billionth of a second before it fainted, setting a new record of human capability to capture ultrafast processes inside solids!

When x-rays shine onto solid materials or large molecules, an electron is pushed away from its original place near the nucleus of the atom, leaving a hole...

Im Focus: Quantum Sensors Decipher Magnetic Ordering in a New Semiconducting Material

For the first time, physicists have successfully imaged spiral magnetic ordering in a multiferroic material. These materials are considered highly promising candidates for future data storage media. The researchers were able to prove their findings using unique quantum sensors that were developed at Basel University and that can analyze electromagnetic fields on the nanometer scale. The results – obtained by scientists from the University of Basel’s Department of Physics, the Swiss Nanoscience Institute, the University of Montpellier and several laboratories from University Paris-Saclay – were recently published in the journal Nature.

Multiferroics are materials that simultaneously react to electric and magnetic fields. These two properties are rarely found together, and their combined...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

“Lasers in Composites Symposium” in Aachen – from Science to Application

19.09.2017 | Event News

I-ESA 2018 – Call for Papers

12.09.2017 | Event News

EMBO at Basel Life, a new conference on current and emerging life science research

06.09.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Rainbow colors reveal cell history: Uncovering β-cell heterogeneity

22.09.2017 | Life Sciences

Penn first in world to treat patient with new radiation technology

22.09.2017 | Medical Engineering

Calculating quietness

22.09.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>