|417, Submillimeter Astrophysics and Technology: A Symposium Honoring Thomas G. Phillips
|Radford, S. J. E.; Giovanelli, R.; Sebring, T. A.; Zmuidzinas, J.
|Star formation, which drives the evolution of baryonic matter in the universe, occurs in the densest regions of the interstellar medium. As a result much of the emergent short wavelength radiation, UV to near IR, is absorbed by intervening dust and reradiated at longer wavelengths, far IR and subillimeter. Indeed the energy density of post primordial extragalactic light is divided equally between these short and long wavelengths, indicating equal amounts of radiation have passed through dusty and optically transparent environments over cosmic time. Comprehensive understanding of the processes of galaxy, star, and planetary formation requires, therefore, high sensitivity and high angular resolution observations, particularly surveys, in the far IR and submillimeter.
A consortium led by Cornell and Caltech with JPL is now jointly planning the construction of a 25 m diameter telescope for submillimeter astronomy on a high mountain in northern Chile. This CCAT will combine high sensitivity, a wide field of view, and a broad wavelength range to provide an unprecedented capability for deep, large area, multi-color submillimeter surveys to complement narrow field, high resolution studies with ALMA. CCAT observations will address fundamental themes in contemporary astronomy, notably the formation and evolution of galaxies, the nature of the dark matter and dark energy that comprise most of the content of the universe, the formation of stars and planets, the conditions in circumstellar disks, and the conditions during the early history of the Solar system. The candidate CCAT site, at 5600m in northern Chile, enjoys superb observing conditions. To accommodate large format bolometer cameras, CCAT is designed with a 20 arcmin field of view. CCAT will incorporate closed loop active control of its segmented primary mirror to maintain a half wavefront error of 10 μm rms or less for the entire telescope. Instrumentation under consideration includes both short (650 μm–200 μm) and long (2 mm–750 μm) wavelength bolometer cameras, direct detection spectrometers, and heterodyne receiver arrays. In addition to Cornell and Caltech with JPL, the University of Colorado, the Universities of British Columbia and of Waterloo, the UK Astronomy Technology Centre on behalf of the UK community, and the Universities of Cologne and of Bonn have joined the CCAT consortium. When complete, CCAT will be the largest and most sensitive facility of its class as well as the highest altitude astronomical facility on Earth.