The Next Generation of CMB Cosmology Experiments: Challenges and Solutions

Dr. Jason Austerman (host Krawczynski), NIST
January 26, 2018 at 2:15 pm
241 Compton
Event Description 

Here, I will share an experimentalist’s view of the current state of cosmological research through studies of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and what lies ahead for the field in the coming decade. Since first detection in 1964, ever improving measurements of the CMB have continued to be an impactful probe of the physics of our universe. Observing the primordial universe at these early and energetic times has allowed us to use the Universe itself as a laboratory to study physics on scales and in environments that cannot be replicated on Earth. Observations of the CMB have routinely proven to provide incredibly rich data sets, supplying unique and powerful measurements that are useful in a wide range of research areas of astronomy, cosmology, and fundamental physics. For example, CMB observations probe the history, content, and evolution of our universe. They also provide important constraints on fundamental and theoretical physics in areas of dark matter, d ark energy, neutrino physics, and cosmological inflation. In addition, we can study large scale structure and astrophysical processes within the modern universe through the interaction of CMB photons and intervening matter along the line of sight. Most excitingly, theory in these areas of research show there is still much more to be learned from studies of the CMB if we continue to measure it more precisely and in new ways, including measuring patterns of linear polarization and to do so over a wide range of observation wavelengths and angular scales. The requirements needed to test new theories have driven a period of rapid and continued advancement in detector and experimental technologies. Here, I review the current state of CMB related research and the challenges we face in reaching the next levels of understanding. I will also review the technologies under development that are rising to meet those challenges, and outline new experiments and major initiatives currently u nderway. In particular, I will discuss significant advances in superconducting technologies as applied to detector, readout, and amplifier components that have made many of the recent leaps in CMB science possible. I will also share some of my own experiences working in the field on experiments such as the South Pole Telescope (SPT), the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), as well as future experiments that include balloon and space-based missions.

Joint Astrophysics/Quantum Information and Materials Seminar

Coffee: 2:00 pm, 241 Compton