Betelgeuse has experienced a sudden shift in its brightness and dimmed mysteriously. This is likely caused by a hot blob of plasma ejected from Betelgeuse and then cooled to obscuring dust. If true, it is a remarkable opportunity to directly witness the formation of dust around a red supergiant star. Today's optical telescope facilities are not optimized for monitoring the Betelgeuse surface, so in this work, we propose a low-cost optical interferometer. The facility will consist of 12 x 4 inch optical telescopes mounted to the surface of a large radio dish for model-independent aperture synthesis imaging; polarization-maintaining single-mode fibers will carry the coherent beams from the individual optical telescopes to an all-in-one beam combiner. A fast steering mirror assisted fiber injection system guides the flux into fibers. A metrology system senses vibration-induced piston errors in optical fibers, and these errors are corrected using fast-steering delay lines. We will present the design.
A linear field of view (FOV) K-mirror system used for image derotation is presented as a case example for how to leverage freeform surfaces in dynamic optical configuration design. As the K-mirror rotates about the optical axis, points in the FOV sample the surface at distinct locations, allowing for highly local control of the system aberrations. This methodology is distinct from the typical benefits associated with freeform surfaces, and as such broadens the uses of freeform optics into the category of systems that exhibit changing optical configurations. We show that compared to an on-axis or off-axis conic design, the freeform surface has better distortion correction abilities. Furthermore, a real pupil is generated by the K-mirror system and analyzed for uniformity. The design ideas presented for the K-mirror are discussed in the context of astronomical applications, where systems may benefit from these techniques.
The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) is a very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) experiment that aims to observe supermassive black holes with an angular resolution that is comparable to the event horizon scale. The South Pole occupies an important position in the array, greatly increasing its north-south extent and therefore its resolution.
The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter diameter, millimeter-wavelength telescope equipped for bolometric observations of the cosmic microwave background. To enable VLBI observations with the SPT we have constructed a coherent signal chain suitable for the South Pole environment. The dual-frequency receiver incorporates state-of-the-art SIS mixers and is installed in the SPT receiver cabin. The VLBI signal chain also includes a recording system and reference frequency generator tied to a hydrogen maser. Here we describe the SPT VLBI system design in detail and present both the lab measurements and on-sky results.
The SPTpol camera is a dichroic polarimetric receiver at 90 and 150 GHz. Deployed in January 2012 on the South Pole Telescope (SPT), SPTpol is looking for faint polarization signals in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). The camera consists of 180 individual Transition Edge Sensor (TES) polarimeters at 90 GHz and seven 84-polarimeter camera modules (a total of 588 polarimeters) at 150 GHz. We present the design, dark characterization, and in-lab optical properties of the 150 GHz camera modules. The modules consist of photolithographed arrays of TES polarimeters coupled to silicon platelet arrays of corrugated feedhorns, both of which are fabricated at NIST-Boulder. In addition to mounting hardware and RF shielding, each module also contains a set of passive readout electronics for digital frequency-domain multiplexing. A single module, therefore, is fully functional as a miniature focal plane and can be tested independently. Across the modules tested before deployment, the detectors average a critical temperature of 478 mK, normal resistance RN of 1.2Ω , unloaded saturation power of 22.5 pW, (detector-only) optical efficiency of ~ 90%, and have electrothermal time constants < 1 ms in transition.
The SPTpol camera is a two-color, polarization-sensitive bolometer receiver, and was installed on the 10 meter South Pole Telescope in January 2012. SPTpol is designed to study the faint polarization signals in the Cosmic Microwave Background, with two primary scientific goals. One is to constrain the tensor-to-scalar ratio of perturbations in the primordial plasma, and thus constrain the space of permissible in inflationary models. The other is to measure the weak lensing effect of large-scale structure on CMB polarization, which can be used to constrain the sum of neutrino masses as well as other growth-related parameters. The SPTpol focal plane consists of seven 84-element monolithic arrays of 150 GHz pixels (588 total) and 180 individual 90 GHz single- pixel modules. In this paper we present the design and characterization of the 90 GHz modules.
SPTpol is a dual-frequency polarization-sensitive camera that was deployed on the 10-meter South Pole Telescope in January 2012. SPTpol will measure the polarization anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) on angular scales spanning an arcminute to several degrees. The polarization sensitivity of SPTpol will enable a detection of the CMB “B-mode” polarization from the detection of the gravitational lensing of the CMB by large scale structure, and a detection or improved upper limit on a primordial signal due to inationary gravity waves. The two measurements can be used to constrain the sum of the neutrino masses and the energy scale of ination. These science goals can be achieved through the polarization sensitivity of the SPTpol camera and careful control of systematics. The SPTpol camera consists of 768 pixels, each containing two transition-edge sensor (TES) bolometers coupled to orthogonal polarizations, and a total of 1536 bolometers. The pixels are sensitive to light in one of two frequency bands centered at 90 and 150 GHz, with 180 pixels at 90 GHz and 588 pixels at 150 GHz. The SPTpol design has several features designed to control polarization systematics, including: singlemoded feedhorns with low cross-polarization, bolometer pairs well-matched to dfference atmospheric signals, an improved ground shield design based on far-sidelobe measurements of the SPT, and a small beam to reduce temperature to polarization leakage. We present an overview of the SPTpol instrument design, project status, and science projections.
SuperSpec is an ultra-compact spectrometer-on-a-chip for millimeter and submillimeter wavelength astronomy. Its very small size, wide spectral bandwidth, and highly multiplexed readout will enable construction of powerful multibeam spectrometers for high-redshift observations. The spectrometer consists of a horn-coupled microstrip feedline, a bank of narrow-band superconducting resonator filters that provide spectral selectivity, and kinetic inductance detectors (KIDs) that detect the power admitted by each filter resonator. The design is realized using thin-film lithographic structures on a silicon wafer. The mm-wave microstrip feedline and spectral filters of the first prototype are designed to operate in the band from 195-310 GHz and are fabricated from niobium with at Tc of 9.2K. The KIDs are designed to operate at hundreds of MHz and are fabricated from titanium nitride with a Tc of ~ 2 K. Radiation incident on the horn travels along the mm-wave microstrip, passes through the frequency-selective filter, and is finally absorbed by the corresponding KID where it causes a measurable shift in the resonant frequency. In this proceedings, we present the design of the KIDs employed in SuperSpec and the results of initial laboratory testing of a prototype device. We will also brie describe the ongoing development of a demonstration instrument that will consist of two 500-channel, R=700 spectrometers, one operating in the 1-mm atmospheric window and the other covering the 650 and 850 micron bands.
SuperSpec is a pathfinder for future lithographic spectrometer cameras, which promise to energize extra-galactic astrophysics at (sub)millimeter wavelengths: delivering 200–500 kms-1 spectral velocity resolution over an octave bandwidth for every pixel in a telescope’s field of view. We present circuit simulations that prove the concept, which enables complete millimeter-band spectrometer devices in just a few square-millimeter footprint. We evaluate both single-stage and two-stage channelizing filter designs, which separate channels into an array of broad-band detectors, such as bolometers or kinetic inductance detector (KID) devices. We discuss to what degree losses (by radiation or by absorption in the dielectric) and fabrication tolerances affect the resolution or performance of such devices, and what steps we can take to mitigate the degradation. Such design studies help us formulate critical requirements on the materials and fabrication process, and help understand what practical limits currently exist to the capabilities these devices can deliver today or over the next few years.
We present the software system used to control and operate the South Pole Telescope. The South Pole Telescope is
a 10-meter millimeter-wavelength telescope designed to measure anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background
(CMB) at arcminute angular resolution. In the austral summer of 2011/12, the SPT was equipped with a new
polarization-sensitive camera, which consists of 1536 transition-edge sensor bolometers. The bolometers are read
out using 36 independent digital frequency multiplexing (DfMux) readout boards, each with its own embedded
processors. These autonomous boards control and read out data from the focal plane with on-board software
and firmware. An overall control software system running on a separate control computer controls the DfMux
boards, the cryostat and all other aspects of telescope operation. This control software collects and monitors
data in real-time, and stores the data to disk for transfer to the United States for analysis.
In January 2012, the 10m South Pole Telescope (SPT) was equipped with a polarization-sensitive camera, SPTpol, in order to measure the polarization anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Measurements of the polarization of the CMB at small angular scales (~several arcminutes) can detect the gravitational lensing of the CMB by large scale structure and constrain the sum of the neutrino masses. At large angular scales (~few degrees) CMB measurements can constrain the energy scale of Inflation. SPTpol is a two-color mm-wave camera that consists of 180 polarimeters at 90 GHz and 588 polarimeters at 150 GHz, with each polarimeter consisting of a dual transition edge sensor (TES) bolometers. The full complement of 150 GHz detectors consists of 7 arrays of 84 ortho-mode transducers (OMTs) that are stripline coupled to two TES detectors per OMT, developed by the TRUCE collaboration and fabricated at NIST. Each 90 GHz pixel consists of two antenna-coupled absorbers coupled to two TES detectors, developed with Argonne National Labs. The 1536 total detectors are read out with digital frequency-domain multiplexing (DfMUX). The SPTpol deployment represents the first on-sky tests of both of these detector technologies, and is one of the first deployed instruments using DfMUX readout technology. We present the details of the design, commissioning, deployment, on-sky optical characterization and detector performance of the complete SPTpol focal plane.
SuperSpec is an innovative, fully planar, compact spectrograph for mm/sub-mm astronomy. SuperSpec is based on a superconducting filter-bank consisting of a series of planar half-wavelength filters to divide up the incoming, broadband radiation. The power in each filter is then coupled into titanium nitride lumped element kinetic inductance detectors, facilitating the read out of a large number of filter elements. We will present electromagnetic simulations of the different components that will make up an R = 700 prototype instrument. Based on these simulations, we discuss optimisation of the coupling between the antenna, transmission line, filters and detectors.
High angular resolution observations are essential to understand a variety of astrophysical phenomena. The resolution
of millimeter wave interferometers is limited by large and rapid differential atmospheric delay fluctuations.
At the Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA) we have employed a Paired Antenna
Calibration System (C-PACS) for atmospheric phase compensation in the extended array configurations
(up to 2 km baselines). We present a description of C-PACS and its application. We also present successful
atmospheric delay corrections applied to science observations with dramatic improvements in sensitivity and
We describe the Submillimeter Array (SMA) Polarimeter, a polarization converter and feed multiplexer installed
on the SMA. The polarimeter uses narrow-band quarter-wave plates to generate circular polarization sensitivity
from the linearly-polarized SMA feeds. The wave plates are mounted in rotation stages under computer control
so that the polarization handedness of each antenna is rapidly selectable. Positioning of the wave plates is found
to be highly repeatable, better than 0.2 degrees. Although only a single polarization is detected at any time,
all four cross correlations of left- and right-circular polarization are efficiently sampled on each baseline through
coordinated switching of the antenna polarizations in Walsh function patterns. The initial set of anti-reflection
coated quartz and sapphire wave plates allows polarimetry near 345 GHz; these plates have been have been used
in observations between 325 and 350 GHz. The frequency-dependent cross-polarization of each antenna, largely
due to the variation with frequency of the retardation phase of the single-element wave plates, can be measured
precisely through observations of bright point sources. Such measurements indicate that the cross-polarization of
each antenna is a few percent or smaller and stable, consistent with the expected frequency dependence and very
small alignment errors. The polarimeter is now available for general use as a facility instrument of the SMA.
A 1.5 THz superconducting receiver has been in operation at the Receiver Lab Telescope of the Smithsonian
Astrophysical Observatory in Northern Chile since December 2004. This receiver incorporates a Hot Electron Bolometer
(HEB) mixer chip made from a thin film of Niobium Titanium Nitride (NbTiN), which is mounted in a precisionmachined
waveguide mixer block attached to a corrugated waveguide horn assembly. With a noise temperature of
around 1500 K, this receiver is sensitive enough for use in the pioneering field of ground-based terahertz spectral-line
astronomy. A number of innovative techniques have been employed in the construction and deployment of this receiver.
These include near-field vector beam mapping to enable accurate coupling to the telescope optics, the use of tunerless
planar-diode based local oscillator unit capable of generating a few μW at 1.5 THz, and special calibration techniques
required for terahertz astronomy. In this paper, we will report on the design, set-up and operation of this state-of-the-art
We report on the design and construction of a tiled Cadmium Zinc Telluride (CZT) detector array, suitable for use as an astronomical coded aperture imager. Four detector modules, each with 4 x 4 x 0.5 cm of CZT, readout by two 128 channel XA type ASICs, have been built and incorporated into a detector focal plane array. A passive shield/collimator surrounded by plastic scintillator encloses the detector on five sides and provides a 40 degree field of view. In this paper, we present our performance goals and some preliminary calibration results.