Nav: Home

Looking for signs of the Big Bang in the desert

March 21, 2017

The silence of an immense desolate land in which to search for reverberations coming from the time at which everything began. The Simons Observatory will be built in the Chilean Atacama desert at an altitude of several thousand metres for the purposes of studying primordial gravitational waves which originated in the first instants of the Big Bang. The SISSA research group led by Carlo Baccigalupi and Francesca Perrotta will take part in this prestigious international project which will lead to the realization of an ultra-modern telescope project. Their role will involve studying and removing 'signal contaminants', emissions from our galaxy and other astrophysical objects which interfere with the analysis and study of primordial gravitational waves.

"Studying and measuring these waves, which originated just a few instants after the Big Bang means getting even closer to that zero-moment when the universe began". This is how cosmologists Carlo Baccigalupi and Francesca Perrotta explained the importance of the research which will see them involved in an international project funded by the Simons Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation. "It is one of the great astrophysics and cosmology themes on which a lot of work is being done and which is bringing us important new scientific discoveries and challenges thanks to the progress made with the Planck probe. The Simons Observatory, for which 40 million dollars have been set aside, will make a great contribution to this", continued the researchers.

Gravitational waves are distortions of the space-time curvature which propagate like waves. Foreseen by the theory of General Relativity but not by Newton's theory of gravity, these are phenomena which have only been directly observed extremely recently, in 2015, as a result of the work of the LIGO interferometer team, as emissions resulting from the collision of two black holes dozens of times bigger than the sun. This extraordinary discovery gave a further powerful boost to the scientific community's research into gravitational waves generated by the Big Bang.

The realization of the huge telescope project which will enable scientists to study these waves should begin in around two years' time. All of the research groups involved will be meeting up in California this summer to decide on the technical characteristics of this ultra-sophisticated tool. The first observations are expected by the end of the decade. In a joint project involving the United States, Japan and Europe, SISSA - for now the only Italian partner - will be playing an important role.

In the words of Baccigalupi and Perrotta: "Our research group, involving also Davide Poletti, Nicoletta Krachmalnicoff and Giuseppe Puglisi, together with european institutions such as the Paris Laboratory of Astrophysics and Cosmology and Imperial College, London, we will study signal contaminants, i.e. the emissions coming from our galaxy, such as dust or gas, which can interfere with the analysis of primordial gravitational waves. What we will do is to attempt to measure polluting signals and eliminate them by means of applying mathematical models to the data. The Simons Observatory will be the focus for a study which will play a part in an already well-established research line for the Trieste group. Also related to this, the SISSA team is a participant in RadioForegrounds, a project which is part of the European Commission's Horizon 2020 and of which Francesca Perrotta is the Italian lead.

The Atacama desert, with an area of more than 100,000 km2, is considered one of the driest places in the world and experiments are already under way there, with pre-existing telescopes such as that used in the POLARBEAR experiment (at an altitude of 5200 metres) in which SISSA's scientists are playing an active part studying the cosmic microwave background. Two further telescopes, called the Simons Array, are already being built in the same area. These will now be joined by the larger Simons Observatory telescope program.

-end-



Scuola Internazionale Superiore di Studi Avanzati

Related Big Bang Articles:

'Big Food' companies have less power than you might think
A Dartmouth study finds that 'Big Food' companies are striving to make food more sustainable from farm to factory but have less power than you might think.
Looking for signs of the Big Bang in the desert
The Simons Observatory will be built in the Chilean Atacama desert for the purposes of studying primordial gravitational waves which originated in the first instants of the Big Bang.
More bang for the buck
Researchers find cost-effective solutions to sediment runoff and other land-based pollution affecting West Maui reefs
Big data for the universe
Astronomers at Lomonosov Moscow State University in cooperation with their French colleagues and with the help of citizen scientists have released 'The Reference Catalog of galaxy SEDs,' which contains value-added information about 800,000 galaxies.
Can big data yield big ideas? Blend novel and familiar, new study finds
Struggling to get your creative juices flowing for a new idea or project?
Why big brains are rare
Do big-brained creatures steal energy for them from other organs or eat more to supply this expensive tissue?
New antimatter breakthrough to help illuminate mysteries of the Big Bang
Swansea University physicists working with an international collaborative team at CERN, conduct the first precision study of antihydrogen, the antimatter equivalent of hydrogen.
Big data for little creatures
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at UC Riverside has received $3 million from the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers who will learn how to exploit the power of big data to understand insects.
How we escaped from the Big Bang
A Griffith University physicist is challenging the conventional view of space and time to show how the world advances through time.
Big PanDA tackles big data for physics and other future extreme scale scientific applications
A team of physicists just received $2.1 million in funding for 2016-2017 from DOE's Advanced Scientific Computing Research program to enhance a 'workload management system' for handling the ever-increasing data demands of two experiments at the Large Hadron Collider and expanding its use as a general workload management service for a Department of Energy supercomputer.

Best Science Podcasts 2017

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2017. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Oliver Sipple
One morning, Oliver Sipple went out for a walk. A couple hours later, to his own surprise, he saved the life of the President of the United States. But in the days that followed, Sipple's split-second act of heroism turned into a rationale for making his personal life into political opportunity. What happens next makes us wonder what a moment, or a movement, or a whole society can demand of one person. And how much is too much?
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Future Consequences
From data collection to gene editing to AI, what we once considered science fiction is now becoming reality. This hour, TED speakers explore the future consequences of our present actions. Guests include designer Anab Jain, futurist Juan Enriquez, biologist Paul Knoepfler, and neuroscientist and philosopher Sam Harris.