Colloquia 2007

Colloquia 2007

Astronomy on the Altiplano -- Sub-Millimetre Wave Astronomy from the Atacama Plateau of Chile

A/Professor Michael Burton
UNSW, School of Physics

4-5 p.m., Thursday, 31 May, 2007

School of Physics Common Room
Room 64 Old Main Building
The University of New South Wales

The altiplano is a 5000m elevation plateau in the Andes of South America where are found the driest temperate-latitude places on the Earth. This provides superb conditions for sub-millimetre wave astronomy, opening up new windows for observation through that are inaccessible from other temperate sites. In these wavebands emission from dust and molecules is prominent, including the birth sites of massive stars in our own Galaxy and the red-shifted emission from some of the youngest galaxies in the Universe.

The altiplano nearby to the town of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile is about to become home to the largest concentration of front-line telescopes on our planet. While the billion-dollar ALMA (the Atacama Large Millimetre Array) project is well known, there are eight other telescopes at various stages in their planning and construction processes. These range from the 4m NANTEN2 telescope to the 25m CCAT (Cornell Caltech Atacama Telescope).
Three Australian universities (UNSW, Sydney, Macquarie) have recently joined the international university consortium building the NANTEN2 sub-millimetre wave telescope.

This talk will provide an introduction to the Atacama plateau, and in particular to the NANTEN2 telescope. It will discuss some of the science opportunities they present, and their complementarity to capabilities of Australia's own millimetre-wave facilities.

The audience is invited to meet the speaker beforehand at 3.45 p.m. over wine and cheese in the Physics Common Room.

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