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 cosmology.ucsd.edu. More information on the Simons Foundation can be found at simonsfoundation.org.
Jade Griffin | Newswise
Tune your radio: galaxies sing while forming stars
21.02.2017 | Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie
Breakthrough with a chain of gold atoms
17.02.2017 | Universität Konstanz
Cells need to repair damaged DNA in our genes to prevent the development of cancer and other diseases. Our cells therefore activate and send “repair-proteins”...
The Fraunhofer IWS Dresden and Technische Universität Dresden inaugurated their jointly operated Center for Additive Manufacturing Dresden (AMCD) with a festive ceremony on February 7, 2017. Scientists from various disciplines perform research on materials, additive manufacturing processes and innovative technologies, which build up components in a layer by layer process. This technology opens up new horizons for component design and combinations of functions. For example during fabrication, electrical conductors and sensors are already able to be additively manufactured into components. They provide information about stress conditions of a product during operation.
The 3D-printing technology, or additive manufacturing as it is often called, has long made the step out of scientific research laboratories into industrial...
Nature does amazing things with limited design materials. Grass, for example, can support its own weight, resist strong wind loads, and recover after being...
Nanometer-scale magnetic perforated grids could create new possibilities for computing. Together with international colleagues, scientists from the Helmholtz Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR) have shown how a cobalt grid can be reliably programmed at room temperature. In addition they discovered that for every hole ("antidot") three magnetic states can be configured. The results have been published in the journal "Scientific Reports".
Physicist Dr. Rantej Bali from the HZDR, together with scientists from Singapore and Australia, designed a special grid structure in a thin layer of cobalt in...
13.02.2017 | Event News
10.02.2017 | Event News
09.02.2017 | Event News
21.02.2017 | Earth Sciences
21.02.2017 | Medical Engineering
21.02.2017 | Trade Fair News