Grant: $713,199 - National Science Foundation - Aug. 17, 2009
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Award Description: Neutral hydrogen observations of the epoch of reionization (EoR) and dark energy have recently garnered a lot of attention for their potential to study the emergence of the first luminous objects and the evolution of large scale structure. From the astrophysics perspective, HI EoR observations can offer unique insight into the objects driving reionization (Pop IIIa vs. Pop IIIb vs. Pop II vs. quasars), their effects on the intergalactic medium, and the feedback of these first ionizing sources on subsequent structure formation (ionization suppression vs. metal enhancement of star formation, small vs. large halos). From the physics perspective, HI cosmology observations could map a much larger volume of space than the CMB while simultaneously probing smaller scales at high redshift due to the lack of Silk damping. In conjunction with advances in low frequency radio instrumentation and statistical techniques, this scientific potential has given rise to a number of observational efforts to observe HI structure at high redshift. These include the Murchison Wide field Array (MWA), the LOw Frequency ARray (LOFAR), and the GMRT which plan to observe the epoch of reionization in the next few years, and the SKA, MWA 5000, and Fast Fourier Telescope concepts for HI dark energy observations. The primary challenge facing all of these observational efforts is foreground removal. During the epoch of reionization the cosmological signal is 5 orders-of-magnitude fainter than the astrophysical foregrounds. In principle the smooth spectral characteristics of the major foregrounds provide a dimension along which the foregrounds may be separated from the signal, but this separation is greatly complicated by instrumental effects which can mask this distinction (see x2.1 & x3.1). Morales is leading an international team of scientists to remove foreground contamination from the MWA epoch of reionization measurements, and is laying a path for future HI dark energy measurements through the ALFALFA SPROUT project. Morales is also seeking to implement an undergraduate research program to help community college students transfer to four-year research universities. Community college transfer students are disproportionately women and under represented minority students. By assisting these students successfully transfering to a research university, the program could enhance the diversity and preparation of the student pipeline into graduate school and industry. Intellectual Merit. The proposed research into removing the astrophysical and instrumental foregrounds from HI observations could enable an era of 21 cm cosmology. This would greatly enhance our understanding of the first luminous objects in the universe, and could enable precision cosmography and dark energy studies across cosmic time. Broader Impact. What we propose: scientific and educational programs, outline of proposal.
Project Description: In kicking off the grant, there have been three significant steps forward putting us ahead of our expected deliverables for the first quarter (status marked as less than 50% as it will take 5 years to reach the final deliverables). These steps include: - Hiring Christian Boutan as a Research Assistant. - Software Holography paper accepted for publication by Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society and now in press - Completion of major review article titled "Reionization and Cosmology with 21 cm Fluctuations" for the Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics
Jobs Summary: Not Applicable this Quarter (Total jobs reported: 0)
Project Status: Less Than 50% Completed
This award's data was last updated on Aug. 17, 2009. Help expand these official descriptions using the wiki below.