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Optics Plate Assembly for Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope (BLAST)

Description

Balloon-borne telescopes are an economic alternative to scientists seeking to study light compared to other ground- and space-based alternatives, such as the Keck Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. One such balloon-borne telescope is the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope,

Balloon-borne telescopes are an economic alternative to scientists seeking to study light compared to other ground- and space-based alternatives, such as the Keck Observatory and the Hubble Space Telescope. One such balloon-borne telescope is the Balloon-borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope, or simply BLAST. Arizona State University was tasked with assembling one of the primary optics plates for the telescope's next mission. This plate, detailed in the following paragraphs, is designed to detect and capture submillimeter wavelength light. This will help scientists understand the formation and early life of stars. Due to its highly sensitive nature detecting light, the optics plate had to be carefully assembled following a strict assembly and testing procedure. Initially, error tolerances for the mirrors and plate were developed using a computer model, later to be compared to measured values. The engineering decisions made throughout the process pertained to every aspect of the plate, from ensuring the compliance of the engineering drawings to the polishing of the mirrors for testing. The assembly procedure itself was verified at the conclusion using a coordinate measuring machine (CMM) to analyze whether or not the plate was within defined error tolerances mentioned above. This data was further visualized within the document to show that the assembly procedure of the BLAST optics plate was successful. The largest error margins seen were approximately one order of magnitude lower than their tolerated limits, reflecting good engineering judgement and care applied to the manufacturing process. The plate has since been shipped offsite to continue testing and the assembly team is confident it will perform well within expected parameters.

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2016-05

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Searching for Stellar Outflow in the R Coronae Australis Region

Description

Using data from the Arizona Radio Observatory Submillimeter Telescope, we have studied the active, star-forming region of the R Coronae Australis molecular cloud in 12CO (2-1), 13CO (2-1), and HCO+ (3-2). We baselined and mapped the data using CLASS. It

Using data from the Arizona Radio Observatory Submillimeter Telescope, we have studied the active, star-forming region of the R Coronae Australis molecular cloud in 12CO (2-1), 13CO (2-1), and HCO+ (3-2). We baselined and mapped the data using CLASS. It was then used to create integrated intensity, outflow, and centroid velocity maps in IDL. These clearly showed the main large outflow, and then we identified a few other possible outflows.

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2014-05

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An Automated Test System for Terahertz Receiver Characterization

Description

An automated test system was developed to characterize detectors for the Kilopixel Array Pathfinder Project (KAPPa). KAPPa is an astronomy instrument that detects light at terahertz wavelengths using a 16-pixel heterodyne focal plane array. Although primarily designed for the KAPPa

An automated test system was developed to characterize detectors for the Kilopixel Array Pathfinder Project (KAPPa). KAPPa is an astronomy instrument that detects light at terahertz wavelengths using a 16-pixel heterodyne focal plane array. Although primarily designed for the KAPPa receiver, the test system can be used with other instruments to automate tests that might be tedious and time-consuming by hand. Mechanical components of the test setup include an adjustable structure of aluminum t-slot framing that supports a rotating chopper. Driven by a stepper motor, the chopper alternates between blackbodies at room temperature and 77 K. The cold load consists of absorbing material submerged in liquid nitrogen in an open Styrofoam cooler. Scripts written in Matlab and Python control the mechanical system, interface with receiver components, and process data. To calculate the equivalent noise temperature of a receiver, the y-factor method is used. Test system operation was verified by sweeping the local oscillator frequency and power level for two room temperature Schottky diode receivers from Virginia Diodes, Inc. The test system was then integrated with the KAPPa receiver, providing a low cost, simple, adaptable means to measure noise with minimal user intervention.

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2014-05

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Photometric Color Correction of the Star-Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS)

Description

The Star Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS) will be a 6U CubeSat devoted to photometric monitoring of M dwarfs in the far-ultraviolet (FUV) and near-ultraviolet (NUV) (160 and 280 nm respectively), measuring the time-dependent spectral slope, intensity and evolution of

The Star Planet Activity Research CubeSat (SPARCS) will be a 6U CubeSat devoted to photometric monitoring of M dwarfs in the far-ultraviolet (FUV) and near-ultraviolet (NUV) (160 and 280 nm respectively), measuring the time-dependent spectral slope, intensity and evolution of M dwarf stellar UV radiation. The delta-doped detectors baselined for SPARCS have demonstrated more than five times the in-band quantum efficiency of the detectors of GALEX. Given that red:UV photon emission from cool, low-mass stars can be million:one, UV observation of thes stars are susceptible to red light contamination. In addition to the high efficiency delta-doped detectors, SPARCS will include red-rejection filters to help minimize red leak. Even so, careful red-rejection and photometric calibration is needed. As was done for GALEX, white dwarfs are used for photometric calibration in the UV. We find that the use of white dwarfs to calibrate the observations of red stars leads to significant errors in the reported flux, due to the differences in white dwarf and red dwarf spectra. Here we discuss the planned SPARCS calibration model and the color correction, and demonstrate the importance of this correction when recording UV measurements of M stars taken by SPARCS.

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2021-05

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Tidal tales of minor mergers: star formation in the tidal tails of minor mergers

Description

This work examines star formation in the debris associated with collisions of dwarf and spiral galaxies. While the spectacular displays of major mergers are famous (e.g., NGC 4038/9, ``The Antennae''), equal mass galaxy mergers are relatively rare compared to minor

This work examines star formation in the debris associated with collisions of dwarf and spiral galaxies. While the spectacular displays of major mergers are famous (e.g., NGC 4038/9, ``The Antennae''), equal mass galaxy mergers are relatively rare compared to minor mergers (mass ratio <0.3) Minor mergers are less energetic than major mergers, but more common in the observable universe and, thus, likely played a pivotal role in the formation of most large galaxies. Centers of mergers host vigorous star formation from high gas density and turbulence and are surveyed over cosmological distances. However, the tidal debris resulting from these mergers have not been well studied. Such regions have large reservoirs of gaseous material that can be used as fuel for subsequent star formation but also have lower gas density. Tracers of star formation at the local and global scale have been examined for three tidal tails in two minor merger systems. These tracers include young star cluster populations, H-alpha, and [CII] emission. The rate of apparent star formation derived from these tracers is compared to the gas available to estimate the star formation efficiency (SFE). The Western tail of NGC 2782 formed isolated star clusters while massive star cluster complexes are found in the UGC 10214 (``The Tadpole'') and Eastern tail of NGC 2782. Due to the lack of both observable CO and [CII] emission, the observed star formation in the Western tail of NGC 2782 may have a low carbon abundance and represent only the first round of local star formation. While the Western tail has a normal SFE, the Eastern tail in the same galaxy has an low observed SFE. In contrast, the Tadpole tidal tail has a high observed star formation rate and a corresponding high SFE. The low SFE observed in the Eastern tail of NGC 2782 may be due to its origin as a splash region where localized gas heating is important. However, the other tails may be tidally formed regions where gravitational compression likely dominates and enhances the local star formation.

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2013

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Instrument design and radiation pattern testing for terahertz astronomical instruments

Description

The Milky Way galaxy is a powerful dynamic system that is highly efficient at recycling material. Stars are born out of intergalactic gas and dust, fuse light elements into heavier elements in their cores, then upon stellar death spread material

The Milky Way galaxy is a powerful dynamic system that is highly efficient at recycling material. Stars are born out of intergalactic gas and dust, fuse light elements into heavier elements in their cores, then upon stellar death spread material throughout the galaxy, either by diffusion of planetary nebula or by explosive events for high mass stars, and that gas must cool and condense to form stellar nurseries. Though the stellar lifecycle has been studied in detail, relatively little is known about the processes by which hot, diffuse gas ejected by dying stars cools and conglomerates in the interstellar medium (ISM). Much of this mystery arises because only recently have instruments with sufficient spatial and spectral resolution, sensitivity, and bandwidth become available in the terahertz (THz) frequency spectrum where these clouds peak in either thermal or line emission. In this dissertation, I will demonstrate technology advancement of instruments in this frequency regime with new characterization techniques, machining strategies, and scientific models of the spectral behavior of gas species targeted by these instruments.

I begin this work with a description of radiation pattern measurements and their use in astronomical instrument characterization. I will introduce a novel technique to measure complex (phase-sensitive) field patterns using direct detectors. I successfully demonstrate the technique with a single pixel microwave inductance detectors (MKID) experiment. I expand that work by measuring the APEX MKID (A-MKID) focal plane array of 880 pixel detectors centered at 350 GHz. In both chapters I discuss the development of an analysis pipeline to take advantage of all information provided by complex field mapping. I then discuss the design, simulation, fabrication processes, and characterization of a circular-to-rectangular waveguide transformer module integrated into a circularly symmetric feedhorn block. I conclude with a summary of this work and how to advance these technologies for future ISM studies.

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Date Created
2018

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The development of unique focal planes for high-resolution suborbital and ground-based exploration

Description

The development of new Ultra-Violet/Visible/IR range (UV/Vis/IR) astronomical instrumentation that use novel approaches for imaging and increase the accessibility of observing time for more research groups is essential for rapid innovation within the community. Unique focal planes that are rapid-prototyped,

The development of new Ultra-Violet/Visible/IR range (UV/Vis/IR) astronomical instrumentation that use novel approaches for imaging and increase the accessibility of observing time for more research groups is essential for rapid innovation within the community. Unique focal planes that are rapid-prototyped, low cost, and provide high resolution are key.

In this dissertation the emergent designs of three unique focal planes are discussed. These focal planes were each designed for a different astronomical platform: suborbital balloon, suborbital rocket, and ground-based observatory. The balloon-based payload is a hexapod-actuated focal plane that uses tip-tilt motion to increase angular resolution through the removal of jitter – known as the HExapod Resolution-Enhancement SYstem (HERESY), the suborbital rocket imaging payload is a Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) delta-doped charge-coupled device (CCD) packaged to survive the rigors of launch and image far-ultra-violet (FUV) spectra, and the ground-based observatory payload is a star centroid tracking modification to the balloon version of HERESY for the tip-tilt correction of atmospheric turbulence.

The design, construction, verification, and validation of each focal plane payload is discussed in detail. For HERESY’s balloon implementation, pointing error data from the Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO) Antarctic balloon mission was used to form an experimental lab test setup to demonstrate the hexapod can eliminate jitter in flight-like conditions. For the suborbital rocket focal plane, a harsh set of unit-level tests to ensure the payload could survive launch and space conditions, as well as the characterization and optimization of the JPL detector, are detailed. Finally, a modification of co-mounting a fast-read detector to the HERESY focal plane, for use on ground-based observatories, intended to reduce atmospherically induced tip-tilt error through the centroid tracking of bright natural guidestars, is described.

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Date Created
2019

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Simulating Atmosphere and the TolTEC Detector Array for Data Reduction Pipeline Evaluation

Description

TolTEC is a three-color millimeter wavelength camera currently being developed for the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) in Mexico. Synthesizing data from previous astronomy cameras as well as knowledge of atmospheric physics, I have developed a simulation of the data collection

TolTEC is a three-color millimeter wavelength camera currently being developed for the Large Millimeter Telescope (LMT) in Mexico. Synthesizing data from previous astronomy cameras as well as knowledge of atmospheric physics, I have developed a simulation of the data collection of TolTEC on the LMT. The simulation was built off smaller sub-projects that informed the development with an understanding of the detector array, the time streams for astronomical mapping, and the science behind Lumped Element Kinetic Inductance Detectors (LEKIDs). Additionally, key aspects of software development processes were integrated into the scientific development process to streamline collaboration across multiple universities and plan for integration on the servers at LMT. The work I have done benefits the data reduction pipeline team by enabling them to efficiently develop their software and test it on simulated data.

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Date Created
2019

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Techniques for the analysis and understanding of cosmic evolution

Description

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has provided precise information on the evolution of the Universe and the current cosmological paradigm. The CMB has not yet provided definitive information on the origin and strength of any primordial magnetic fields or how

The Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) has provided precise information on the evolution of the Universe and the current cosmological paradigm. The CMB has not yet provided definitive information on the origin and strength of any primordial magnetic fields or how they affect the presence of magnetic fields observed throughout the cosmos. This work outlines an alternative method to investigating and identifying the presence of cosmic magnetic fields. This method searches for Faraday Rotation (FR) and specifically uses polarized CMB photons as back-light. I find that current generation CMB experiments may be not sensitive enough to detect FR but next generation experiments should be able to make highly significant detections. Identifying FR with the CMB will provide information on the component of magnetic fields along the line of sight of observation.

The 21cm emission from the hyperfine splitting of neutral Hydrogen in the early universe is predicted to provide precise information about the formation and evolution of cosmic structure, complementing the wealth of knowledge gained from the CMB.

21cm cosmology is a relatively new field, and precise measurements of the Epoch of Reionization (EoR) have not yet been achieved. In this work I present 2σ upper limits on the power spectrum of 21cm fluctuations (Δ²(k)) probed at the cosmological wave number k from the Donald C. Backer Precision Array for Probing the Epoch of Reionization (PAPER) 64 element deployment. I find upper limits on Δ²(k) in the range 0.3 < k < 0.6 h/Mpc to be (650 mK)², (450 mK)², (390 mK)², (250 mK)², (280mK)², (250 mK)² at redshifts z = 10.87, 9.93, 8.91, 8.37, 8.13 and 7.48 respectively

Building on the power spectrum analysis, I identify a major limiting factor in detecting the 21cm power spectrum.

This work is concluded by outlining a metric to evaluate the predisposition of redshifted 21cm interferometers to foreground contamination in power spectrum estimation. This will help inform the construction of future arrays and enable high fidelity imaging and

cross-correlation analysis with other high redshift cosmic probes like the CMB and other upcoming all sky surveys. I find future

arrays with uniform (u,v) coverage and small spectral evolution of their response in the (u,v,f) cube can minimize foreground leakage while pursuing 21cm imaging.

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Date Created
2018

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Dwarf galaxies as laboratories of protogalaxy physics: canonical star formation laws at low metallicity

Description

In the upcoming decade, powerful new astronomical facilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), and ground-based 30-meter telescopes will open up the epoch of reionization to direct astronomical observation. One of the primary

In the upcoming decade, powerful new astronomical facilities such as the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST), the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), and ground-based 30-meter telescopes will open up the epoch of reionization to direct astronomical observation. One of the primary tools used to understand the bulk astrophysical properties of the high-redshift universe are empirically-derived star-forming laws, which relate observed luminosity to fundamental astrophysical quantities such as star formation rate. The radio/infrared relation is one of the more mysterious of these relations: despite its somewhat uncertain astrophysical origins, this relation is extremely tight and linear, with 0.3 dex of scatter over five orders of magnitude in galaxy luminosity. The effects of primordial metallicities on canonical star-forming laws is an open question: a growing body of evidence suggests that the current empirical star forming laws may not be valid in the unenriched, metal-poor environment of the very early universe.

In the modern universe, nearby dwarf galaxies with less than 1/10th the Solar metal abundance provide an opportunity to recalibrate our star formation laws and study the astrophysics of extremely metal-deficient (XMD) environments in detail. I assemble a sample of nearby dwarf galaxies, all within 100 megaparsecs, with nebular oxygen abundances between 1/5th and 1/50th Solar. I identify the subsample of these galaxies with space-based mid- and far-infrared data, and investigate the effects of extreme metallicities on the infrared-radio relationship. For ten of these galaxies, I have acquired 40 hours of observations with the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA). C-band (4-8 GHz) radio continuum emission is detected from all 10 of these galaxies. These represent the first radio continuum detections from seven galaxies in this sample: Leo A, UGC 4704, HS 0822+3542, SBS 0940+544, and SBS 1129+476. The radio continuum in these galaxies is strongly associated with the presence of optical H-alpha emission, with spectral slopes suggesting a mix of thermal and non-thermal sources. I use the ratio of the radio and far-infrared emission to investigate behavior of the C-band (4-8 GHz) radio/infrared relation at metallicities below 1/10th Solar.

I compare the low metallicity sample with the 4.8 GHz radio/infrared relationship from the KINGFISHER nearby galaxy sample Tabatabaei et al. 2017 and to the 1.4 GHz radio/infrared relationship from the blue compact dwarf galaxy sample of Wu et al. 2008. The infrared/radio ratio q of the low metallicity galaxies is below the average q of star forming galaxies in the modern universe. I compare these galaxies' infrared and radio luminosities to their corresponding Halpha luminosities, and find that both the infrared/Halpha and the radio/H-alpha ratios are reduced by nearly 1 dex in the low metallicity sample vs. higher metallicity galaxies; however the deficit is not straightforwardly interpreted as a metallicity effect.

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2018