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POLOCALC: A Novel Method to Measure the Absolute Polarization Orientation of the Cosmic Microwave Background
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Physics. Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, The Oskar Klein Centre for Cosmo Particle Physics (OKC).
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Number of Authors: 7
2017 (English)In: Journal of Astronomical Instrumentation, ISSN 2251-1717, Vol. 6, no 2, UNSP 1740008Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

We describe a novel method to measure the absolute orientation of the polarization plane of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) photons with arcsecond accuracy, enabling unprecedented measurements for cosmology and fundamental physics. Existing and planned CMB polarization instruments looking for primordial B-mode signals need an independent, experimental method for systematics control on the absolute polarization orientation. The lack of such a method limits the accuracy of the detection of inflationary gravitational waves, the constraining power on the neutrino sector through measurements of gravitational lensing of the CMB, the possibility of detecting Cosmic Birefringence (CB), and the ability to measure primordial magnetic fields. Sky signals used for calibration and direct measurements of the detector orientation cannot provide an accuracy better than 1 degrees. Self-calibration methods provide better accuracy, but may be affected by foreground signals and rely heavily on model assumptions, losing constraining power on fundamental processes, like CB, Faraday Rotation and chiral gravity models. The POLarization Orientation CALibrator for Cosmology, POLOCALC, will dramatically improve instrumental accuracy by means of an artificial calibration source flying on high-altitude balloons and aerial drones. Polarization angle calibration requires observation of a well-characterized distant source at high elevation angles. A balloon-borne calibrator will provide a source in the far field of larger telescopes, while an aerial drone can be used for tests and smaller polarimeters. POLOCALC will also allow a unique method to measure the telescopes' polarized beam. Even a two-hour balloon flight will allow enough time to perform polarization angle calibration and polarized beam function measurements. The source will make use of both narrow and broadband microwave emitters between 40GHz and 150GHz coupled to precise polarizing filters. The orientation of the source polarization plane will be registered to absolute celestial coordinates by star cameras and gyroscopes with arcsecond accuracy. This project can become a rung in the calibration ladder for the field: any existing or future CMB polarization experiment observing our novel polarization calibrator will enable measurements of the polarization angle for each detector with respect to absolute sky coordinates.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 6, no 2, UNSP 1740008
Keyword [en]
Cosmic microwave background, polarization, systematics, B-modes, high-altitude balloons
National Category
Physical Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-145250DOI: 10.1142/S2251171717400086ISI: 000403433900009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-145250DiVA: diva2:1128661
Available from: 2017-07-27 Created: 2017-07-27 Last updated: 2017-07-27Bibliographically approved

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Gerbino, Martina
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