Projects in Experimental Cosmology
We are involved in several experimental projects with international collaborations.
- Dark Energy Survey (DES) is a 500 Megapixel camera with a 1 meter diameter, 2.2 degree field of view, and a data aquisition system fast enough to take images in 17 seconds. The camera was built at Fermilab, and will be installed at the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO) in Chile. The instrument will become a general user instrument, available to the astronomical community.
- South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10 meter diameter telescope operating at the NSF South Pole research station. The telescope is designed for conducting large-area millimeter and sub-millimeter wave surveys of faint, low contrast emission, as required to map primary and secondary anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background.
- Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) is an 8.4m telescope being built on Cerro Pachon in Chile. Unlike any other telescope, LSST is designed to survey the entire southern sky every 3 nights. LSST will be the only telescope in the world to provide time-lapse digital imaging of faint astronomical objects across the entire sky. The LSST has been identified as a national scientific priority by a diverse set of national panels and is the highest priority astronomical facility recommended by the 2010 Decadal Survey. LSST is a Stage IV (in the parlance of the Dark Energy Task Force) experiment that will produce petabytes of data in order to facilitate precision probes of cosmology through large-scale structure, supernovae, and weak lensing.
- Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) is one of the most ambitious and influential surveys in the history of astronomy. Over eight years of operations (SDSS-I, 2000-2005; SDSS-II, 2005-2008), it obtained deep, multi-color images covering more than a quarter of the sky and created 3-dimensional maps containing more than 930,000 galaxies and more than 120,000 quasars.
- BigBOSS is a proposed DOE-NSF Stage IV ground-based dark energy experiment to study baryon acoustic oscillations (BAO) and the growth of structure with an allsky galaxy redshift survey. The project is designed to unlock the mystery of dark energy using existing ground-based facilities operated by National Optical Astronomy Observatory (NOAO).
- Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is an ambitious experiment designed to directly observe gravitational waves of cosmic origin. These waves were first predicted by Einstein's Theory of General Relativity in 1916, when the technology necessary for their detection did not yet exist. Gravitational waves were indirectly confirmed to exist when observations were made of the binary pulsar PSR 1913+16, for which the Nobel Prize was awarded to Hulse and Taylor in 1993. Direct detection of gravitational waves has long been sought, for it would open up a new branch of astronomy to complement electromagnetic telescopes and neutrino observatories.
- Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment (ROTSE) is designed to achieve observations in optical light of the massive deep-space explosions called Gamma-Ray Bursts.