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South Pole Telescope: From conception to first discovery – Zak Staniszewski

Date: Tue. October 21st, 2008, 11:30 am-12:30 pm
Location: Rockefeller 221

The South Pole Telescope recently discovered three new galaxy clusters in their CMB maps via the Sunyaev Zel’dovich (SZ) effect (Staniszewski et al. 2008). These are the first galaxy clusters discovered using this promising new technique. The number of galaxy clusters at a given redshift depends strongly on the expansion history of the universe as well as the relative abundances of matter, dark matter and dark energy during structure formation. The brightness of the SZ signal from a galaxy cluster is nearly redshift independent, making it a powerful tool for discovering galaxy clusters that were forming when dark energy was becoming important. The South Pole Telescope is a ten meter off-axis telescope located at the geographic South Pole. With its large aperture and observing bands at 90, 150 and 220 GHz, the telescope is optimized for high angular resolution measurements of the CMB. In the last few years, the SPT has been built, tested and deployed. We have gone from first light to first discovery in less than two years. In addition to highlighting the scientific motivation and design features for the SPT, I will highlight Case Western Reserve University’s contributions to its construction and recent scientific discoveries.

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