South Pole Telescope

From UChicago News, Feb. 6, 2020: Fermilab and University of Chicago scientist Brad Benson and colleagues use a different method to calculate the masses of distant galaxies: the polarization, or orientation, of the light left over from the moments after the Big Bang. In doing so, they demonstrate how to “weigh” galaxy clusters using light from the earliest moments of the universe — a new method that could help shed light on dark matter, dark energy and other mysteries of the cosmos.

The Event Horizon Telescope—a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration—was designed to capture images of a black hole. On April 10, in coordinated news conferences across the globe, researchers revealed that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a supermassive black hole and its shadow. 

Chicago in January may feel like the coldest place in the universe, but it’s colder at the South Pole. Scientists there are looking out into space and observing microwaves that have been traveling at the speed of light for 13.6 billion years. Once they were ultraviolet rays, but as the universe expanded, their wavelengths stretched, and they became blue, then red, then infrared (heat) and now they are microwaves, which you may have in an oven in your kitchen. Radio waves have even longer wavelengths.

A new camera for the South Pole Telescope, called SPT-3G, will aid scientists in creating the deepest, most sensitive map yet of the cosmic microwave background, allowing them to peer more closely into the era of the universe just after the Big Bang.

From University of Chicago, Jan. 26, 2016: Argonne, Fermilab and the University of Chicago are among the dozen institutions that are working on upgrading the South Pole Telescope. Scientists are getting ready to install a new camera on the telescope later this year to plumb the earliest history of the cosmos.