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:

  • BOOMERANG, which determined the age, geometry, and content of the Universe through observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background.

  • BLAST, which identified the source of the cosmic infrared background and constrained the history of star formation in the universe.

  • BLASTpolwhich has used sub-mm polarization maps to understand the relationship between polarization and magnetic fields in the life of giant molecular clouds.

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.




Prof Barth Netterfield
Prof. C. Barth Netterfield
Balloon Borne Astrophysics
University of Toronto 

Dept. Of Physics 
60 St. George  Street 
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A7

Lab: ES4150 
Phone: (416) 845-0946
Lab Phone: (416) 946-0946
E-mail: netterfield@astro.utoronto.ca