Supervisors: Clive Dickinson and Stuart Harper
Project description: Intensity mapping is a recently proposed method of efficiently mapping the emission of single spectral lines across cosmological volumes. Proposals for intensity mapping have been made using many different species such as atomic HI, CII, Lyman-N1, CO, amongst others. All the lines can be used to study the large-scale structures of galaxies and clusters, which trace the evolution of the baryonic matter density and cosmic expansion. As CO is predominantly found within the dark, cold cores of star forming nebulae, CO predominantly traces star forming galaxies, which means it can also be used to measure the star formation history of the Universe.
The CO intensity mapping experiment called COMAP is planning to use the intensity mapping technique to map out a large volume of the Universe. The pathfinder instrument with 19 detectors is currently being constructed and commissioned at the Owens Valley Radio Observatory (OVRO) in California and should be making regular observations in 2018. COMAP will probe the redshift range of 2 < z < 3, which is during the epoch of peak of cosmic star formation. However, measuring the cosmological CO signal is expected to be challenging due to mixing of the signal with bright Galactic emission, turbulence within the atmosphere, instabilities of the instrumentation and the interaction of optical systems with the sky and surrounding environment. To overcome these challenges has required building a detailed end-to-end simulation of the COMAP experiment.
The student will be involved in COMAP experiment, which is an international collaboration between Manchester, Caltech, JPL, Stanford, and Oslo. The project offers an opportunity to become involved in an exciting field of cosmological research that is still in its infancy. The thrust of the project will be to run simulations of the COMAP observations that will be critical in determining the specifications of the instrumentation and designing data analysis methods for recovering the cosmological CO signal. As such, the project offers a lot freedom in the topic or topics the student wishes to pursue, from instrumentation, atmospheric science, Galactic emission, cosmology, and advanced data analysis methods; depending on interest and experience of the student.