Welcome to the Balloon Astrophysics Group
Advances in astrophysics are often driven by new observational techniques and technologies which uncover previously unobservable phenomena. While ground based observations have clear advantages in terms of cost and flexibility, difficulties observing through the atmosphere at many wave bands have driven the development of incredibly expensive space-based observatories with development times of over a decade.
Our research group exploits new technologies on balloon borne telescopes in fields ranging from cosmology to star formation. Operating at altitudes above 35km and above over 99.5% of the atmosphere, stratospheric balloon-born telescopes can achieve many of the benefits of satellite based instruments, but at a fraction of the cost, and with development times consistent with a Ph.D. thesis. We specializes in the development of gondolas, pointing systems, and data-handling systems to exploit the latest developments in detector technologies, and in the analysis of data from these instruments.
Our past instruments include:
Our current experiments are:
Spider, a mm-wave polarimeter designed to detect or place limits on the amplitude of Cosmological B-modes in the cosmic microwave background in the presence of foregrounds,
SuperBIT, a visible/near UV telescope which will make wide field diffraction-limited observations to use strong and weak lensing to map out the distribution of dark matter around hudreds of galaxy clusters.