Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


New Telescopes to Give UC San Diego Researchers Glimpse of the Beginning of Time

Where do we come from? What is the universe made of? Will the universe exist only for a finite time or will it last forever?

These are just some of the questions that University of California, San Diego physicists are working to answer in the high desert of northern Chile. Armed with a massive 3.5 meter (11.5 foot) diameter telescope designed to measure space-time fluctuations produced immediately after the Big Bang, the research team will soon be one step closer to understanding the origin of the universe. The Simons Foundation has recently awarded the team a $4.3 million grant to build and install two more telescopes. Together, the three telescopes will be known as the Simons Array.

“The Simons Array will inform our knowledge of the universe in a completely new way,” said Brian Keating, associate professor of Physics at UC San Diego’s Center for Astrophysics and Space Sciences. Keating will lead the project with Professor Adrian Lee of UC Berkeley.

Fluctuations in space-time, also known as “gravitational waves,” are gravitational perturbations that propagate at the speed of light and can penetrate “through” matter, like an x-ray. The gravitational waves are thought to have imprinted the “primordial soup” of matter and photons that later coalesced to become gases, stars and galaxies—all the structures that we now see. The photons left over from the Big Bang will be captured by the telescopes to give scientists a unique view back to the universe’s beginning.

The telescopes of the Simons Array—named in recognition of the grant—will focus light onto more than 20,000 detectors, each of which must be cooled nearly to absolute zero. The result will provide an unmatched combination of sensitivity, frequency coverage and sky coverage.

Last year, the first POLARBEAR (for Polarization of Background Radiation) telescope, which will comprise one third of the Simons Array, was set up in Chile’s Atacama Desert. The site is one of the highest and driest places on Earth at 17,000 feet above sea level, making it one of the planet’s best locations for such a study. The site’s high elevation means that it lies above half of the Earth’s atmosphere. Because water vapor absorbs microwaves, the dry climate allows the already thin atmosphere to transmit even more of the faint cosmic microwave background radiation. Since March 2012, the telescope has recorded data to identify an imprint of primordial gravitational waves on the cosmic microwave background radiation, the relic radiation remaining from the Big Bang.

While POLARBEAR was a major technological achievement, the single telescope is sensitive to just one frequency. Additional detectors in the new telescopes will measure the cosmic microwave background at different frequencies so that researchers can compare the data and subtract out contaminating radiation emitted from the Milky Way Galaxy. Together, the three telescopes will also be much more sensitive to the elusive gravitational wave signals, offering deeper insight into the origin of the universe.

Keating continued, “The Simons Array will have the same or better capabilities as a $1 billion satellite, and with NASA’s budget constraints, there are no planned space-based missions for this job.”

Scientists from UC San Diego, UC Berkeley, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, University of Colorado, McGill University in Canada and the KEK Laboratory in Japan are collaborating on the project.

Based in New York City, the Simons Foundation was established in 1994 by Jim and Marilyn Simons. The foundation’s mission is to advance the frontiers of research in mathematics and the basic sciences. The Foundation is delighted to be able to help support this innovative investigation into the earliest moments of the universe.

Initial funding for the first POLARBEAR telescope came from the National Science Foundation, the James B. Ax Family Foundation and an anonymous donor.

For more information on the Simons Array, visit More information on the Simons Foundation can be found at

Jade Griffin | Newswise
Further information:

More articles from Physics and Astronomy:

nachricht Novel light sources made of 2D materials
28.10.2016 | Julius-Maximilians-Universität Würzburg

nachricht OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA
27.10.2016 | University of Oklahoma

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: Novel light sources made of 2D materials

Physicists from the University of Würzburg have designed a light source that emits photon pairs. Two-photon sources are particularly well suited for tap-proof data encryption. The experiment's key ingredients: a semiconductor crystal and some sticky tape.

So-called monolayers are at the heart of the research activities. These "super materials" (as the prestigious science magazine "Nature" puts it) have been...

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

Steering a fusion plasma toward stability

28.10.2016 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Bioluminescent sensor causes brain cells to glow in the dark

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

Activation of 2 genes linked to development of atherosclerosis

28.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>