Joint Astrophysics/Space Physics Seminar
Dr. Nicholas Galitzki; Simons Observatory Postdoctoral Scholar; Department of Physics; University of California, San Diego
“Observing the galactic submillimeter polarization spectrum from a balloon-borne telescope”
Abstract: Dust particles comprise a significant fraction of the interstellar medium (ISM) and absorb or emit light from optical to microwave wavelengths, yet the composition and polarized spectral dependence of dust is not well understood. Observations of the polarized submillimeter emission from dust provides one of the strongest probes of dust properties including degree of grain alignment, dust populations, and temperature. In 2012 the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope for Polarimetry (BLASTPol) flew from Antarctica and produced some of the most detailed polarization maps of molecular clouds to date. The next generation instrument, BLAST-TNG, will have the sensitivity and resolution to probe 0.1 parsec-scale features that are critical to understanding the origin of structures in the interstellar medium. BLAST-TNG will trace magnetic fields in galactic molecular clouds to probe the earliest stages of star formation while also providing unique measurements of emission from the diffuse ISM, the single largest contributor to cosmic microwave background (CMB) foreground contamination. I will discuss results from the BLASTPol data with a focus on correlations between the dust polarization spectra and environment. I will give an overview of the design, capabilities, and science of BLAST-TNG as well as an update on its most recent flight from McMurdo Station, Antarctica. I will also discuss future plans for BLAST-TNG as well as other balloon-borne and space-based experiments that will map polarized submillimeter emission.