Monday, August 3, 2009

2012 and the South Pole Telescope

South Pole Telescope
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Full view of South Pole Telescope, 2008
The South Pole Telescope. A picture of the South Pole Telescope collaboration in front of the telescope.The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10 meter diameter telescope located at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station, Antarctica. It is a microwave/millimeter-wave telescope that observes in a frequency range between 70 and 300 GHz. The primary science goal for SPT is to conduct a survey to find several thousand clusters of galaxies, which should allow interesting constraints on the Dark Energy equation of state.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Chicago, the University of California-Berkeley, Case Western Reserve University, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, the University of Colorado-Boulder, and McGill University. It is funded by the National Science Foundation.

From the South Pole Telescope Website (University of Chicago):

October 10, 2008: Galaxy clusters discovered with the South Pole Telescope.

The first major scientific results from the South Pole Telescope initial survey were released on October 10, 2008. A paper submitted to the Astrophysical Journal and posted on the astro-ph preprint server describes the detection of four distant, massive clusters of galaxies in an initial analysis of South Pole Telescope (SPT) survey data. Three of these galaxy clusters were previously unknown systems and, therefore, represent the first clusters detected in a Sunyaev-Zel'dovich (SZ) effect survey. These first four galaxy clusters are the most significant SZ detections from a subset of the ongoing SPT survey. As such, they serve as a demonstration that SZ surveys, and the SPT in particular, can be an effective means for finding galaxy clusters.

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