We’re building CCAT-prime!

Reporters came through the lab last week to interview us for this press release (link). Not an everyday experience for a physicist!


From left to right: Jim Blair, Michael Niemack*, Riccardo Pavesi, Brian Koopman*, Martha Haynes, Gordon Stacey, Thomas Nikola, Dominik Riechers, Eve Vavagiakis*, Riccardo Giovanelli, and Nicholas Cothard*. We’re standing in Mike’s lab (the lab I work in at Cornell) in front of the dilution refrigerator we use to cool things like detectors to 100mK and below. *=members of the Niemack lab. Credit: Robert Barker/University Photography.

We have announced the vendor for the Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope-prime (CCAT-p) project: Vertex Antennentechnik GmbH. You can view the rendering of the telescope design in the press release above.

CCAT-prime will be a 6-meter diameter telescope designed to operate at submillimeter to millimeter wavelengths. We’ll use it to study:

  • The kinematic Sunyaev-Zel’dovich (kSZ) effect, a distortion in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) due to the motions of galaxy clusters that the CMB photons pass through before hitting us here on Earth. You can read more about the kSZ effect and why we’re interested in it here.
  • The Epoch of Reionization (EOR), a point of transition in the universe’s history roughly 400,000 years after the big bang. During this period, the universe transitioned away from being dark and neutral, and the first luminous sources — stars and galaxies, the objects we normally think of when we think of “space” — were formed.
  • The interstellar medium (ISM), the “stuff” (gas, dust, cosmic rays) that exists between stellar systems inside of galaxies and blends into the area between galaxies. Studying the ISM will teach us about star formation
  • The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). CCAT-p will serve as a next-generation CMB observatory. The crossed Dragone telescope design will enable CCAT-p to scan the sky ten times faster than we currently are able to (read more in Mike Niemack’s paper here). CCAT-p will also be able to take advantage of anticipated advances in detector and readout technologies, and will observe in multiple frequencies to precisely extract dust from desired CMB signals.

You can learn more about CCAT-p on our website.

Header Image Credit: S. Radford

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