The Robinson Gravitational Wave Background Telescope (BICEP): a bolometric large angular scale CMB polarimeter

Astronomy and Astrophysics – Astrophysics

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18 pages, 11 figures. To appear in Millimeter and Submillimeter Detectors and Instrumentation for Astronomy III, Proceedings o

Scientific paper

10.1117/12.672652

The Robinson Telescope (BICEP) is a ground-based millimeter-wave bolometric array designed to study the polarization of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) and galactic foreground emission. Such measurements probe the energy scale of the inflationary epoch, tighten constraints on cosmological parameters, and verify our current understanding of CMB physics. Robinson consists of a 250-mm aperture refractive telescope that provides an instantaneous field-of-view of 17 degrees with angular resolution of 55 and 37 arcminutes at 100 GHz and 150 GHz, respectively. Forty-nine pair of polarization-sensitive bolometers are cooled to 250 mK using a 4He/3He/3He sorption fridge system, and coupled to incoming radiation via corrugated feed horns. The all-refractive optics is cooled to 4 K to minimize polarization systematics and instrument loading. The fully steerable 3-axis mount is capable of continuous boresight rotation or azimuth scanning at speeds up to 5 deg/s. Robinson has begun its first season of observation at the South Pole. Given the measured performance of the instrument along with the excellent observing environment, Robinson will measure the E-mode polarization with high sensitivity, and probe for the B-modes to unprecedented depths. In this paper we discuss aspects of the instrument design and their scientific motivations, scanning and operational strategies, and the results of initial testing and observations.

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