The Planck collaboration included hundreds of scientists from around the world who have been studying the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) — light from the primordial universe 380,000 years after the Big Bang — with the European Space Agency’s Planck space telescope.
Since its launch in 2009, collaboration scientists have been using Planck observations to refine answers to some of the most fundamental questions about the universe, and to test our current understanding of how it came to be and evolved — a theoretical framework known as the standard model of cosmology. They are also using the data to study our own corner of the cosmos — the Milky Way Galaxy.
An historic meeting at the Faculty of Arts & Science’s Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics (CITA) in 1987 brought together theoretical and experimental astrophysicists from around the world to focus on next steps in studying the CMB. Then, Canada’s involvement in Planck began in earnest in 1993 and was solidified when the Canadian Space Agency joined the European endeavor — with CITA’s Richard Bond and Douglas Scott from the University of British Columbia as co-principal investigators.
One of the first steps for Canada was taken by Barth Netterfield, a professor in the David A. Dunlap Department of Astronomy & Astrophysics and the Department of Physics, along with others at CITA who developed software that would be critical to processing the stream of data from the space telescope.
In addition to Bond and Netterfield, the collaboration included CITA’s Peter Martin, other researchers from CITA and astrophysicists from the University of Alberta, Université Laval, McGill University, Simon Fraser University and the Perimeter Institute.
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