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Higher sensitivity CMB mapper (EBEX) launched

  1. Dec 28, 2012 #1


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    The balloon-borne EBEX microwave background mapper was let fly today. Andrew Jaffe's blog has a video of the launch, down in the Antarctic. video made by Aboobaker:


    Jaffe says:
    "EBEX is a next-generation CMB telescope, with hundreds of detectors measuring temperature and polarisation, which we hope will allow us to see the effects of an early epoch of cosmic inflation through the background of gravitational radiation that it produces. But right now, we are just hoping that EBEX catches some good winds in the Antarctic Polar Vortex and comes back around the continent after about two weeks of observing from 120,000 feet."

    Here is Aboobaker's blog:
    Aboobaker has described the experiment thus:
    " The goal of EBEX is to make a map of the Cosmic Microwave Background polarization at an unprecedented sensitivity level, combining a large focal plane of sensitive transition-edge sensor bolometers with a 10-14 day long-duration balloon flight from the Antarctic while modulating the incoming polarization signal with a continuously-rotating half-wave plate."

    Some background:
    "... the EBEX experiment, a balloon-borne millimeter-wave telescope to study the faint afterglow of the Big Bang."

    The name "E and B Experiment" refers to the electric and magnetic parts of the electromagnetic field.
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
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  3. Dec 30, 2012 #2


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    Sweet! I love when new stuff goes operational!

    Marcus, is this thing looking for signs of gravitational waves via their interaction with the CMB radiation when it was first created?
  4. Dec 30, 2012 #3


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    In a word, yes. Among other things, it's looking for a B-mode pattern of polarization, which would indicate the presence of the primordial gravitational waves predicted by inflation.
  5. Dec 30, 2012 #4


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    Just to clarify, it's not referring to the E and B fields from electromagnetism themselves. It's referring to E-modes and B-modes, two distinct patterns into which the pattern of CMB polarization anisotropy on the sky can be decomposed, each having different symmetry properties. The B-modes are "curl-like" and the E-modes "curl-free", hence, these modes are named by analogy with the E and B fields from E&M.
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