Title Cosmology from Antarctica
Author Wilson, R.W.; Stark, A.A.
Author Affil Wilson, R.W., Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, MA
Source p.359-367, ; Smithsonian at the poles, Washington, DC, May 3-4, 2007, edited by I. Krupnik, M.A. Lang and S.E. Miller. Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Scholarly Press, Washington, DC, United States. ISBN: 978-0-9788460-1-50-9788460-1- X
Publication Date 2009
Notes In English. 77 refs. Ant. Acc. No: 86100. CRREL Acc. No: 63004412
Index Terms history; instruments; logistics; Antarctica--Antarctic Platform; Antarctic Platform; Antarctica; astronomy; International Polar Year 2007-08; IPY 2007-08 Research Publications; observations; telescopes
Abstract Four hundred thousand years after the Big Bang, electrons and nuclei combined to form atoms for the first time, allowing a sea of photons to stream freely through a newly transparent universe. After billions of years, those photons, highly redshifted by the universal cosmic expansion, have become the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation we see coming from all directions today. Observation of the CMB is central to observational cosmology, and the Antarctic plateau is an exceptionally good site for this work. The first attempt at CMB observations from the plateau was an expedition to the South Pole in December 1986 by the Radio Physics Research group at Bell Laboratories. No CMB anisotropies were observed, but sky noise and opacity were measured. The results were sufficiently encouraging that in the austral summer of 1988-1989, three CMB groups participated in the "Cucumber" campaign, where a temporary site dedicated to CMB anisotropy measurements was set up 2 km from South Pole Station. These were summer-only campaigns. Wintertime observations became possible in 1990 with the establishment of the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica (CARA), a National Science Foundation Science and Technology Center. The CARA developed year-round observing facilities in the "Dark Sector", a section of Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station dedicated to astronomical observations. The CARA scientists fielded several astronomical instruments: Antarctic Submillimeter Telescope and Remote Observatory (AST/RO), South Pole Infrared Explorer (SPIREX), White Dish, Python, Viper, Arcminute Cosmology Bolometer Array Receiver (ACBAR), and Degree- Angular Scale Interferometer (DASI). By 2001, data from CARA, together with that from Balloon Observations of Millimetric Extragalactic Radiation and Geophysics (BOOMERANG-a CMB experiment on a long- duration balloon launched from McMurdo Station on the coast of Antarctica) showed clear evidence that the overall geometry of the universe is flat, as opposed to being positively or negatively curved. In 2002, the DASI group reported the detection of polarization in the CMB. These observations strongly support a "concordance model" of cosmology, where the dynamics of a flat universe are dominated by forces exerted by the mysterious dark energy and dark matter. The CMB observations continue on the Antarctic plateau. The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a newly operational 10-m-diameter offset telescope designed to rapidly measure anisotropies on scales much smaller than 1.
URL http://hdl.handle.net/10088/6829
Publication Type monograph
Record ID 292156