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Events & Talks
Past Events, 2017
Summer School: CMB Detectors and Instrumentation
This 1-week "hands-on" summer school is designed to provide the participants with working knowledge of the detectors and instrumentation used to detect the tiny temperature and polarization anisotropy of the cosmic microwave background (CMB). Early graduate students interested in pursuing a PhD in experimental CMB research methods are particularly encouraged to apply. A feature of the school is hands-on activities to teach students the basics of CMB instrumentation. We expect to have room for approximately 15 students.
Topics will include: superconducting detectors, e.g., transition-edge-sensor (TES) bolometers, kinetic-inductance-detectors (KIDs); detector characterization (responsivity, beams, bands, time constants, polarization calibration); coherent techniques for characterizing mm-wave components; SQUIDs and detector readout; antenna design; and Fourier transform spectroscopy.
The School will be held at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago in the William Eckhardt Research Center (ERC).Learn more >>
Midweek on the Midway: Escape from planet Earth
Compare the movie's hero astronaut, Scorch Supernova, to critters walking our planet. See yourself as a South Pole explorer in our selfie booth. Pre-movie fun provided by UChicago's Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, and Boy Scout Troop 599.
The Physics of Toys, Yerkes Summer Institute
Instructors: Huanqing Chen, Zoheyr Doctor, Clarke Esmerian, Emily Gilbert, Jason Henning, Gourav Khullar, Randy Landsberg, James Lasker, Phil Mansfield, Nora Shipp.
Over the course of a week, local Chicago high school students will learn about how the physics of energy conservation makes various everyday toys possible, and how using a structured engineering design process can allow them to understand the inner workings of things around them. In the three main labs, students will learn about pressure potential energy by reverse engineer super soakers and testing manufacturer claims about bottle rockets, they will learn about elastic potential energy by building and racing wind up cars, and they will learn about gravitational potential energy as they compete to build room-sized Rube Goldberg machines. The Institute will also contain various bite-sized activities, ranging from observing nebulae with the Yerkes 24-inch telescope, to learning defense techniques against deceptive infographics, to investigating the mysterious physics of the household microwave.
Alessandro Manzotti, "Unveiling the early Universe: delensing the Cosmic Microwave Background with galaxy surveys"
Ph.D. Committee members: Scott Dodelson (Ph.D. advisor), Wayne Hu, Richard G. Kron, Abigail G. Vieregg
"Alessandro led the team that carried out the first 'de-lensing' of the polarization in the cosmic microwave background. Using data from the South Pole Telescope, the team used software to undo what billions of years of propagation through the clumpy universe has done: distorted the pattern of polarization. This first demonstration is the harbinger of what will ultimately become an essential tool in analyses of future SPT CMB-Stage 4 data."
- Scott Dodelson, Ph.D. advisor
Laura M Mocanu, "Measuring the cosmic microwave background gravitational lensing potential and its power spectrum with SPTpol"
Ph.D. Committee members: Scott Dodelson, Brad Benson, Abigail Vieregg.
"Monica has make many important contributions to the analysis of South Pole Telescope CMB data. For her thesis she has used SPTpol temperature and polarization data to produce the most sensitive CMB lensing reconstruction of the mass distribution in the universe, paving the wave for SPT-BICEP B-mode delensing and other cosmological analysis."
- John Carlstrom, Ph.D. advisor
Thesis Abstract: Weak gravitational lensing by large-scale structure in the universe causes deflections in the paths of cosmic microwave background (CMB) photons. This effect introduces non-Gaussian correlations in the observed CMB temperature and polarization fields. The signature of lensing can be used to reconstruct the projected gravitational lensing potential with a quadratic estimator technique; this provides a measure of the integrated mass distribution out to the surface of last scattering. The power spectrum of the lensing potential encodes information about the geometry of the universe and the growth of structure and can be used to place constraints on the sum of neutrino masses and dark energy. High signal-to-noise mass maps from CMB lensing are also powerful for cross-correlating with other tracers of large-scale structure and for delensing the CMB in search for primordial gravitational waves. In my thesis, I describe a measurement of the CMB gravitational lensing potential and its power spectrum using data from 500 square degrees of sky observed with the polarization-sensitive receiver installed on the South Pole Telescope, SPTpol.
Michael Turner, "The origin of our universe: what we know for sure and the big mysteries"
Speaker: Michael S. Turner
Professor, Departments of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Physics; Enrico Fermi Institute; University of Chicago
We can trace the evolution of our Universe back 13.8 Billion years, to within a microsecond of a big bang beginning. At that early time, all that we see today existed as a hot, slightly lumpy quark soup. We are trying to answer even bigger questions today, e.g., the nature of the dark matter and dark energy that steer the evolution of the Universe, and extend our understanding even further back, even addressing what happened before the big bang.
Chen He Heinrich, "Lensing Bias to CMB Polarization Measurements of Compensated Isocurvature Perturbations"
Ph.D. Committee members: Daniel Holz, Abigail Vieregg, Liantao Wang.
Thesis Abstract: Compensated isocurvature perturbations (CIPs) are opposite spatial fluctuations in the baryon and dark matter (DM) densities. They arise in the curvaton model and some models of baryogenesis. While the gravitational effects of baryon fluctuations are compensated by those of DM, leaving no observable impacts on the cosmic microwave background (CMB) at first order, the baryon fluctuations correlate CMB anisotropies at different multipoles. As a result, CIPs can be reconstructed using quadratic estimators similarly to CMB detection of gravitational lensing. Because of these similarities, however, the CIP estimators are biased with lensing contributions that must be subtracted. In this work, we evaluate these lensing contributions and their impact on the CIP detection threshold due to lensing noise, and assess the prospect of detecting the maximal CIP signal in the curvaton model for a cosmic-variance-limited (CVL) temperature and polarization experiment.
Hsin-Yu Chen, "Multi-messenger Astronomy with Advanced LIGO-Virgo"
"Hsin-Yu's work is helping set the stage for the new era of gravitational-wave astronomy. She has played an active role within the LIGO collaboration in the analysis of our first detections, while also becoming a leader in the field of multi-messenger astronomy."
- Daniel E. Holz, PhD advisor
Thesis Abstract: My thesis is focused on gravitational wave multi-messenger astronomy. The most promising sources for current gravitational wave detectors are compact binary mergers, including the mergers of stellar mass binary black holes, binary neutron stars, and neutron star-black hole system. I investigated the detection rate of binary neutron star and neutron star-black hole mergers from observations of their potential electromagnetic emission. To facilitate the search for the electromagnetic counterparts and the host galaxies of compact binaries, I developed a rapid algorithm that reconstructs the sky direction and luminosity distance of binary mergers from their gravitational wave signals, and predicted the existence of well-localized events. In addition, I carried out a thorough study of how gravitational-wave observational selection effects influence electromagnetic follow-up.
In summary, I explored how to measure astrophysical and cosmological parameters with gravitational wave detections, and facilitated gravitational wave-electromagnetic follow-up through various approaches, paving the way for the future of gravitational wave astrophysics and cosmology.
DES Collaboration Meeting
The Dark Energy Survey is a collaboration of 400 scientists from 25 institutions in 7 countries using the Dark Energy Camera on the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory to carry out a 5-year multi-band imaging survey to probe the nature of dark energy and the physics of cosmic acceleration. Our Spring 2017 collaboration meeting will take place at the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP), in the Eckhart Research Center at the University of Chicago.Learn more >>
Michael Fedderke, "Studies in Higgs physics, particle dark matter and early universe"
"Michael's thesis work covers several important aspects of particle physics and cosmology. It includes detailed studies on the signal of dark matter annihilation in the galactic halo. After producing an interesting paper on the heavy particle production in the early universe, he delved into Higgs physics. He evaluated the potential of discovering new physics via fermionic Higgs portal, which has implications for the physics reach of both current and future colliders. In his most recent project, he has also constructed a model which addressed the little hierarchy problem in the composite Higgs scenario using cosmological evolution of an axion like field."
- LianTao Wang, PhD advisor
Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate, "NASA Science Missions"
NASA Associate Administrator for the Science Mission Directorate Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen will be visiting next Wednesday May 31. He will be giving a short presentation about NASA Space Science and answering questions about NASA and its science program. This is a wonderful opportunity to hear directly from the individual who directs NASA's Science program, as well as asking questions and expressing your views.
He is especially interested in meeting and hear from graduate students and postdocs.
Spring 2017 Postdocs Symposium
Computations in Science Seminar: Daniel Scolnic, "Measuring the size of the Universe with Standard Candles"
Astrophysicists use standard candles, objects which have roughly the same luminosity, to infer distances to far-away parts of the universe. Standard candles of variable stars called 'cepheids' were used to discover the expanding universe, and standard candles of exploding stars called 'supernovae' were used to discover the accelerating universe. Together, these two standard candles can be used to measure the size of the universe. Interestingly, this measurement of the size of the universe recovered conflicts with measurements of the size of the universe from extrapolations of data from the Cosmic Microwave Background. I will go over how we make our measurement, from soup to nuts, and discuss how we can be confident in the accuracy of our values. I will then discuss different ways too explain the tension we see in the different sets of measurements, and possible new physics that may be on the horizon.
French-American Science Festival 2017
Cosmin Deaconu, Postdoctoral Researcher - Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
Eric Oberla, Postdoctoral Researcher - Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
Sam Passaglia, Graduate Student - Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
The Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) at the University of Chicago focuses on understanding the nature of the universe. Scientists at the University of Chicago use many different methods to learn about our universe. Come take a look at our cosmic ray detector, which can sense particles from outer space. Learn how we discover planets around other suns and about cosmology and particle astrophysics research performed by KICP in Antarctica, and the expansion of the universe. Feel free to ask us any questions you might have about the universe.
Cafe Scientifique: Abby Vieregg, "Turning a Continent into a Telescope"
Searching for the highest energy particles in the universe requires an extremely large detector, because they are very rare and elusive. Our hunt for these particles takes us to the bottom of the world - Antarctica - where we can use the entire 14 million square kilometer Antarctic ice sheet as a detector. The particles we are looking for are ultra high energy neutrinos that come from astrophysical sources which are the most powerful accelerators in the universe. At the cafe we will discuss why we search for these high energy neutrinos, how we do it, what we know now, and what we hope to learn in the coming years.
Astronomy on Tap: Zoheyr Doctor, "100 Years in the Making: The Detection of Gravitational Waves"
Join us for a Yuri's Night edition of Chicago Astronomy on Tap hosted by Univ. of Chicago at The Map Room! Yuri's Night celebrates the launch anniversary of the first person in space, Yuri Gagarin. Come hear about the history of human spaceflight, research into the ripples of the fabric of spacetime, and updates on the upcoming March For Science. Compete in astronomy trivia to win awesome astronomy prizes, enjoy the 25+ beers on tap at The Map Room, and enjoy an evening with some awesome alcohol-inclined astronomers!
This month's talk
100 Years in the Making: The Detection of Gravitational Waves - Zoheyr Doctor
Almost two years ago, a ripple in the fabric of space-time, originating from two black holes colliding a billion light-years away, was detected by an international team of scientists. Hear the story of how scientists made this groundbreaking discovery, and about the mind-boggling phenomena physicists and astronomers hope to understand in the coming years.Learn more >>
Broader Horizons: Nicole Fields, a health physicist at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
"From Grad School to Government": UC graduate Nicole Fields will discuss her career as a health physicist and how she got there since gaining her PhD.
Film Screening and Discussion: "Hidden Figures"
Watch a screening of 'Hidden Figures' and join an expert panel of UChicago female physicists and astrophysicists who will explore the contributions of women of color in science and the current and historical challenges they experience. Panelists are Professor Young Kee Kim, Kavli Institute graduate student Andrea Bryant, and KICP Fellow Camille Avestruz.
As the United States raced against Russia to put a man in space, NASA found untapped talent in a group of African-American female mathematicians that served as the brains behind one of the greatest operations in U.S. history. Based on the unbelievably true life stories of three of these women, known as "human computers", we follow these women as they quickly rose the ranks of NASA alongside many of history's greatest minds specifically tasked with calculating the momentous launch of astronaut John Glenn into orbit, and guaranteeing his safe return. Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, and Katherine Johnson crossed all gender, race, and professional lines while their brilliance and desire to dream big, beyond anything ever accomplished before by the human race, firmly cemented them in U.S. history as true American heroes.Learn more >>
LSST DESC Hack Week
The LSST Dark Energy Science Collaboration will be having its second "Hack Week" from April 3-7 at Fermilab, with April 5, Wednesday, spent at KICP. This is an excellent opportunity for those of you who have been waiting to get involved with LSST to begin!
The LSST DESC Hack Week is a working meeting aimed at gathering DESC members to perform focused work on specific projects. The meeting is scheduled for a full work-week, but we expect hacks and sprints of various duration will take place. We encourage participants to attend for all or part of the week.
Supported by the LSSTC and the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.
Daniel Holz, "Gravitational Waves"
Join The Triple Helix for a discussion with Professor Daniel Holz, who worked on last year's gravitational waves discovery! Learn about what led to the discovery and what further progress has been made in the past year.
We will have copies of the newest edition of our Scientia journal available.
Computations in Science Seminar: Joshua A Frieman, "The Dark Energy Survey"
I will overview the Dark Energy Survey (DES) project, highlight its early science results, and discuss its on-going activities and plans. The DES collaboration built the 570-megapixel Dark Energy Camera for the Blanco 4-meter telescope at Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile to carry out a 5-year, deep, multi-band, optical survey over one eighth of the sky and a time-domain survey that will discover several thousand supernovae. The survey started in Aug. 2013 and is now nearing completion of its fourth observing season. DES was designed to address the questions: why is the expansion of the Universe speeding up? Is cosmic acceleration due to dark energy or does it require a modification of General Relativity? If dark energy, is it the energy density of the vacuum (Einstein's cosmological constant) or something else? DES is addressing these questions by measuring the history of cosmic expansion and the growth of structure through four complementary techniques: galaxy clusters, the large-scale galaxy distribution, gravitational lensing, and supernovae, as well as through cross-correlation with other data sets. I will also discuss how the data are being used to make a variety of other astronomical discoveries, from our Solar System to the most distant quasars.
Towards a kg-size dark matter detector with CCDs
On January 25-27, the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics (KICP) will be holding a workshop on "Towards a kg-size dark matter detector with CCDs." The workshop will gather a group of scientists interested in developing a kg-size detector based on the Charged-Coupled Devices technology.
The first day of the Workshop will be dedicated to review the current status and lessons learned with DAMIC100, a 100 g CCD detector installed at SNOLAB. The following days working groups will focus on specific topics (e.g. CCD development, Electronics, DAQ, Simulation and Data Analysis, etc.).Learn more >>
On MLK Day King College Prep Cosmology Club Explores Dark Matter
On Martin Luther King Day, 2017, students from the Cosmology Club at Dr. Martin Luther King Prep High School will visit KICP to learn about current dark matter research and tour the lab facilities. The instructor of the club, Nora Wengerski, has been working with KICP Professor Luca Grandi and his group for several months, including a week-long research experience in the summer of 2016 and developing the curriculum for the King Prep cosmology club, which is in its inaugural year.
Winter 2017 Postdocs Symposium