BLAST-TNG and a Study of Molecular Clouds

Ian N Lowe, University of Pennsylvania


Emission from dust comprises an important part of the astrophysical electromagnetic spectrum and is key for understanding a wide range of topics such as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and the history of star formation in the universe. For the CMB, the emission represents the dominant foreground and, in particular, the polarized emission from these dust grains obfuscates the patterns imprinted in this radiation by the anisotropies present at the surface of last scattering. In the case of star formation, the dust is swept along with the hydrogen and helium which eventually form the stars and affords a view of everything from the starburst galaxies billions of years in the past to the molecular clouds forming stars in the Milky Way today. The Next Generation Balloon-Borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST-TNG) was a submillimeter mapping experiment designed to map the polarized emission of dust grains in giant molecular clouds (GMCs) as well as more diffuse regions. This was achieved through the use of three kilopixel microwave kinetic inductance detector(MKID) arrays which were centered at 250, 350, and 500μm with a 30% fractional bandwidth. The arrays were cooled to 275 mK in a cryogenic receiver which was coupled to a 2.5 m primary telescope providing diffraction-limited resolutions of 30, 41, and 59′′ at 250, 350, and 500μm, respectively. The receiver and telescope, along with a suite of control electronics, were mounted on a gondola and flown from McMurdo Station, Antarctica on January 5th, 2020. The flight was unfortunately cut short due to a mechanical failure after an impact during launch operations and, though we did not produce science data, we were able to collect a wealth of information about the behavior of these detectors and the support systems in a flight environment. In addition to BLAST-TNG, the procedure and results of a study of the properties of dust emission in Herschel Gould Belt Survey (HGBS) regions with Herschel and the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) data are discussed in this text.

Subject Area

Astrophysics|Astronomy|Physics|Low Temperature Physics

Recommended Citation

Lowe, Ian N, "BLAST-TNG and a Study of Molecular Clouds" (2021). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI28649508.