Gazing Back to the Dawn of Time from Above the Clouds

Apr 13, 2023 - 11:00 am to 12:00 pm

SLAC, Kavli 3rd Floor Conf. Room

Jeffrey Filippini (University of Ilinois Urbana-Champaign) In Person and zoom

Zoom Recording

Inflation is thought to have seeded the cosmos with a hum of primordial gravitational waves - unique messengers from the universe's earliest moments. If present, these should have left a vanishingly faint signature in the polarization of the cosmic microwave background. SPIDER is a balloon-borne instrument designed to tease out this faint polarization pattern amidst obscuring Galactic foregrounds, from a vantage point 35 km above the Antarctic ice. I will discuss science results from SPIDER's first long-duration balloon flight, as well as SPIDER's recent (December 2022) second flight with new 280 GHz telescopes to map polarized Galactic dust emission. Along the way I will discuss the important role of ballooning in long-wavelength observations and technology development, and preview two upcoming balloon missions - TIM and Taurus - designed to explore later epochs of cosmic history.