University of Chicago
Astronomy and Astrophysics
Supporting Stations: South Pole Station
Research Locations: Dark Sector
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) conducts cosmological research by measuring the intensity and polarization anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation. The first key project was to survey over 2,500 square degrees of the sky with high sensitivity in three wavelength bands centered at 90, 150, and 220 GHz. This survey was completed in November 2011. The goal of the project is to detect all galaxy clusters in this region of the sky through the spectral distortion they impart on the CMB. The distortion is called the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect. The observed effect has the remarkable property of being independent of the distance to the cluster. The resulting SPT catalog of galaxy clusters is being used to set constraints on the mysterious dark energy that dominates the mass-energy density of the Universe and is causing the expansion of the Universe to accelerate. The second key project started in 2012 with the installation of an ultra-sensitive polarization receiver on the SPT. Through measurements of the polarization, researchers will determine the sum of the masses of the neutrinos and either detect or set stringent upper limits on the energy scale of inflation. The SPT polarization program will be dramatically increased in sensitivity by an order of magnitude in 2016 with the deployment of SPT-3G. This includes a 16,000 detector focal plane in a new receiver and optics cryostat, new readout electronics and a new secondary mirror.
Field Season Overview:
This coming austral summer season for the SPT project will be focused primarily on maintenance and calibration. There are no new major upgrades planned.
Deploying Team Members:
John Carlstrom (PI)
John Ruhl (Co-PI)