CARA Science: SPARO
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The Submillimeter Polarimeter for Antarctic Remote Observing (SPARO) is a
9-pixel lambda = 450 micron polarimetric imager developed by scientists at
Northwestern University for use with the Viper telescope. Polarimetric
submillimeter observations are used to map interstellar magnetic fields.
The advantage of carrying out such observations from the South Pole is that
the high atmospheric transmission and stability allows
us to apply the polarimetry techniques to regions of low column density that
studied at other sites. The main science goal for SPARO is to map the
magnetic field throughout the inner several hundred parsecs of the Milky
Way. Magnetic fields are believed to play important roles in infall
processes such as the one that is occurring in the Milky Way's nucleus,
where a black hole of several million solar masses is believed to have
formed. Observations with SPARO will reveal the global configuration of
the magnetic field in the nucleus, thus providing tests for theories of gas
dynamics in galactic nuclei.
SPARO is scheduled to operate on Viper during October-November 1999.
Significant milestones over the last year in preparation for its
first South Pole observations include:
The primary science goal for austral Winter 2000 will be to map the
magnetic field in the central few hundred parsecs of the Galaxy. Secondary
goals are polarimetry and photometry of giant molecular clouds,
high-latitude clouds, and the nearby cold molecular cloud R CrA.
- Successful test observations with SPARO at Caltech Submillimeter
Observatory during May 3-6, 1998.
- Successful tests on the Viper telescope January 20-26, 1999.
Despite a long wait for liquid helium that resulted in an extremely tight
schedule for testing SPARO, all crucial tests were completed successfully.
The instrument was deemed ready for winter-over, and left in the care of
CARA winter-over scientists Greg Griffin and John Davis.
- Software testing and source selection during February - August 1999.
Final checks on SPARO software, documentation, and engineering target
selection continued back at Northwestern.
The group also has a
more information, including a
with copies of papers on SPARO.
For more information
The group has a website at
SPARO is based at Northwestern University and is being developed in
collaboration with the technical staff of the University of
Chicago Engineering Center.
For more information, contact Giles Novak,