Next generation cosmic microwave background telescopes could detect Planet 9

Planets that are twice as far away as Earth appear 16 times dimmer since the intensity of sunlight weakens by a factor of four going out and by another four times coming back.

If Planet 9 is at an orbital distance of 600 astronomical units (AU) then it would be 160,000 dimmer than Neptune, which orbits 30 AU away from the sun. If Planet 9 were at 1,000 AU then it would be a million times dimmer.

Planet Nine is smaller and colder than the gas giants. However, it would shine in the millimeter part of the spectrum between the microwaves and infrared light. University of Illinois cosmologist Gilbert Holder believes millimeter telescopes in Antarctica and Chile would be able to detect the Planet Nine. The Next Generation CMB Experiment could pick up bodies as small as earth at an orbital distance of 1,000 AU.

Next Generation CMB Experiment

The ‘Stage-4’ ground-based cosmic microwave background (CMB) experiment, CMB-S4, consisting of dedicated telescopes equipped with highly sensitive superconducting cameras operating at the South Pole, the high Chilean Atacama plateau, and possibly northern hemisphere sites, will provide a dramatic leap forward in our understanding of the fundamental nature of space and time and the evolution of the Universe. CMB-S4 will be designed to cross critical thresholds in testing inflation, determining the number and masses of the neutrinos, constraining possible new light relic particles, providing precise constraints on the nature of dark energy, and testing general relativity on large scales.

The CMB-S4 is the next generation CMB experiment: the experiment consists of dedicated telescopes equipped with highly sensitive superconducting cameras operating at the South Pole, the high Chilean Atacama plateau, and possibly other northern hemisphere sites, with an increase of over an order of magnitude in sensitivity over SPT-3G, it will provide a dramatic leap forward in our understanding of the fundamental nature of space and time and the evolution of the Universe.

The total project cost for the CMB-S4 design concept is $412 Million in 2017 dollars, including 45% contingency.

The CMB-S4 can be developed based on existing technology and computation and data-management models used in Stage-3 experiments. Pre-project investments in technology development will reduce risks in cost, schedule, and performance. The CDT recommends investments to improve the reliability and production throughput of detector and readout components, and the continued development of a simulation framework to evaluate instrument designs and systematics.

The CDT finds that the project timeline also benefits from the prior experience with designing and deploying CMB experiments. The project schedule to deliver the strawperson concept allows two years for design and development, four years for construction, and two years for commissioning. Allowing for some overlap of these phases, the CDT baselines seven years to deliver the project for the start of operations. The design concept is highly modular and thus allows flexibility in staging the project implementation.

A 57 page report details the science that a CMB-S4 could deliver and how to build it.

The South Pole Telescope (SPT) is a 10-meter, off-axis (clear aperture) submillimeter –wave telescope designed for conducting large surveys of low contrast emission such as the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and the Sunyaev-Zel’dovich (SZ) effect. It supports a three degree field of view and is equipped with a polarization-sensitive 16,000 bolometric detector camera, SPT-3G, operating at 95 GHz, 150 GHz and 220 GHz. Every aspect of the telescope and its optics are designed for low-noise and high throughput.

Arxiv – Designs for next generation CMB survey strategies from Chile

New telescopes are being built to measure the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) with unprecedented sensitivity, including Simons Observatory (SO), CCAT-prime, the BICEP Array, SPT-3G, and CMB Stage-4. Researchers present observing strategies for telescopes located in Chile that are informed by the tools used to develop recent Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT) and Polarbear surveys. As with ACT and Polarbear, these strategies are composed of scans that sweep in azimuth at constant elevation. We explore observing strategies for both small (0.42 m) aperture telescopes (SAT) and a large (6 m) aperture telescope (LAT). We study strategies focused on small sky areas to search for inflationary gravitational waves as well as strategies spanning roughly half the low-foreground sky to constrain the effective number of relativistic species and measure the sum of neutrino masses via the gravitational lensing signal due to large scale structure. We present these strategies specifically considering the telescope hardware and science goals of the SO, located at 23 degrees South latitude, 67.8 degrees West longitude. Observations close to the Sun and the Moon can introduce additional systematics by applying additional power to the instrument through telescope sidelobes. Significant side lobe contamination in the data can occur even at tens of degrees or more from bright sources. Therefore, we present several strategies that implement Sun and Moon avoidance constraints into the telescope scheduling. Strategies for resolving conflicts between simultaneously visible fields are discussed. We focus on maximizing telescope time spent on science observations. It will also be necessary to schedule calibration measurements, however that is beyond the scope of this work. The outputs of this study are algorithms that can generate specific schedule commands for the Simons Observatory instruments.

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