CHIME

A team of Canadian cosmologists, including the Dunlap’s Prof. Keith Vanderlinde, has built a ground-breaking radio telescope—at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory in B.C.—called CHIME, the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment.

Completed in the summer of 2017, the instrument is now mapping the 21-cm signature of neutral hydrogen within the largest volume of space ever surveyed, encompassing a three-dimensional swath of the Universe that covers half the sky and is billions of light-years deep.

The nearest edge of this vast volume of space will be billions of light-years closer to Earth than the farthest edge. That means CHIME will add yet another dimension—time—to produce a “four-dimensional map” of the expansion and evolution of the Universe over some four billion years of its early history.

This epoch is particularly interesting because it was a time when dark energy began to play an important role in the evolution of the Universe. Dark energy is the enigmatic force behind one of the biggest paradigm shifts in cosmology: that the expansion of the Universe is speeding up, rather than slowing down.

With additional back-end instruments, CHIME/Pulsar and CHIME/FRB, the experiment is also an excellent detector of radio pulsars and the newly recognized phenomenon of Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs).

CHIME comprises four, 20×100-metre half-cylinders, arranged side-by-side—an array that equals the area of five NHL-size hockey rinks. The super-computer “back-end” of CHIME processes incoming radio light and digitally pieces together an image of the radio sky.

CHIME is designed to gather radio signals along the meridian—the line in the sky running between due north and due south on the horizon, and the zenith. The array won’t move, but as the Earth rotates and the sky moves overhead from east to west, CHIME will scan the entire northern sky.

The official start-of-science was marked in a ceremony attended by Canadian Minister of Science, Kirsty Duncan on 7 September 2017 at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory.

The collaboration includes researchers from the University of Toronto, NRC, University of British Columbia, and McGill University. CHIME/FRB and CHIME/Pulsar include the National Radio Astronomy Observatory and the Perimeter Institute as collaborating institutions.

At the University of Toronto, members include researchers from the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, the Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics, and the Dunlap Institute; within the Dunlap, the collaboration includes Prof. Keith Vanderlinde, as well as postdocs and grad students in the Long Wavelength Laboratory.

For more:

CHIME website

Listening for the Universe to CHIME in; Globe & Mail, 7 Sept 2017

Unveiling the Radio Cosmos; Nature, February 2017

‘Half-pipe’ Telescope Will Probe Dark Energy in Teen Universe; Nature News & Comment, July 2015

Canadian Scientists Try to Shed Light on Dark Energy; Globe & Mail, Jan. 2013

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CHIME Image: Andre Renard, Dunlap Institute; CHIME

 

Image: Dr. Peter Klages; Dunlap Institute; CHIME