Paperclips and Supercomputers: a Low-Frequency Radio Cosmology Program
December 10, 2012
Abstract: Several new projects have taken the field, or are advancing rapidly toward funding, in the area of low-frequency radio astronomy. A variety of experiments are now on track to use 21cm emission to study the pre-reionization dark ages (e.g. LEDA, EDGES), the epoch of reionization (e.g. PAPER, MWA, GMRT, LOFAR) and baryon acoustic oscillations (e.g. CHIME, BAOBAB). These efforts share a fundamental technique — intensity mapping — and employ inexpensive “paper-clip” antennas combined with supercomputer-scale digital correlators. I will describe recent progress we have made at UC Berkeley’s Radio Astronomy Laboratory advancing the intensity mapping technique in the context of PAPER, and extrapolating our experience to a new experiment, BAOBAB. I will focus on principles that span all of 21cm cosmology, and will argue for why, despite the different science objectives that these experiments are pursuing, these efforts will benefit from being more tightly integrated with one another.