College of Science

CHAMP: MIT

Simulated antenna

PHOTO (above): Electromagnetic simulations of the antenna element are used to determine whether the dish and feed enable the isolation of foregrounds below the five orders of magnitude necessary to detect the faint cosmological signal.

Radio Astronomy Research at MIT

At MIT, we are developing technology that will allow HERA to peer into the time only several hundred million years after the Big Bang, when the first stellar mass black holes heated the gas found between galaxies before reionization. By observing the signatures of this heating in 21-cm radio waves emitted by this gas, we will be able to determine the properties of the first stellar mass black holes and neutron stars left over from the deaths of the earliest stars and how this heating affected the evolution of the first galaxies into those we observe today. Work is currently underway to design a specialized low-frequency feed that operates at frequencies below those accessible to the current HERA design. 

test antenna at green bank
We verify our simulations with field measurements of this test dish in Green Bank, West Virginia.

During the summer of 2017, we will be carrying out a down select of several feed designs to determine the broadband (or low-band) feed that will be deployed on HERA. Down-selection will be based on the performance of the feed determined through electromagnetic simulations, field measurements, and foreground modeling. CHAMP students will be involved in:

  1. Comparing simulations of foregrounds with different feed designs to autocorrelation or visibility measurements of test feeds in the field.
    Skills: Electromagnetic/Interferometry simulations, data reduction, python
  2. Using S11 measurements and electromagnetic simulations to verify simulations of broadband sinuous antenna design.
    Skills: Field Measurements, electronics, Electromagnetic simulations, python

Program Details

What is it?

Students will begin the summer attending a one week radio astronomy “boot camp” designed to give them some of the skills they will need to succeed in their research. They will then work for the next 9 weeks with faculty and staff at MIT on HERA-related projects.

Selected students will receive a $5000 stipend for the full 10 weeks. In addition, participants will be provided with housing and reimbursed for travel from home or campus to Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Who should apply?

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age by the beginning of the program. They must be enrolled in one of the CAMPARE participating institutions at the time of their application. Participants should not have graduated from their 4-year institution before the beginning of the summer internship. Community college students in the process of transferring to a 4-year institution are eligible to apply.

All applicants must have completed a minimum of one full year of college-level physics by the start of the program.

When and How to Apply

Applications are due February 1, 2018. To apply to the program, follow the Application Instructions. In addition, you must ask two faculty members (or others familiar with your academic or work background) to submit letters of reference using the link on the application instructions page.

Indicate their names, addresses, phone numbers, and e-mail addresses in your on-line application where appropriate. It is your responsibility to confirm that these letters have been sent and failure to obtain these two letters will render your application incomplete and lead to its rejection without review.

Successful students will be notified in March. The research program runs Monday, June 11th to Friday, August 17th 2018 (10 weeks). Participants must be available during the entire 10-week period of the program.

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. AST-1636646.

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