Main body construction of new Tibet observatory near completion

By Deng Xiaoci Source:Global Times Published: 2018/3/6 16:48:39

Observatory set to eyeball Big Bang cosmic waves

China has basically completed the construction of the main body of its observatory in Ali, Southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region, which is designed to probe primordial gravitational waves created by the first tremors of the Big Bang, the chief scientist of the program confirmed with the Global Times on Tuesday.
Zhang Xinmin, a senior researcher at the Institute of High Energy Physics(IHEP) under the Chinese Academy of Science (CAS) and also a member of the 13th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), made the remarks during an exclusive interview with the Global Times on Tuesday. The CAS program, named Ali CMB Polarization Telescope (AliCPT) project, will start operations by 2020, and will produce results by then, he said.

The main goal of the AliCPT project is to probe the primordial gravitational waves (PGWs) originated from the very early universe. The AliCPT project includes two stages. The first stage, referred to as AliCPT-1, is to build a telescope in the Ali region of Tibet at an altitude of 5,250 meters. Once completed, it will be the world’s highest ground-based CMB observatory and would open a new window for probing PGWs in the northern hemisphere, according to a statement the CAS institute sent to the Global Times on Tuesday.

China has prioritized the study of the origin and evolution of the universe in the fundamental research field in the country’s 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), according to the chief scientist of the AliCPT program, adding that previously, when it came to the study and research of gravitational waves and other topics in the cosmology field, China fell short of original findings not commensurate with its status as a world power due to the lack of corresponding research facilities and observatory equipment for experiments and study.
However, the geographic conditions for the Ali is very unique for its high altitude, thin atmosphere and with low moisture content and a vast observation area, making it the best gravitational wave observatory site in the northern hemisphere, Zhang said.

Also, a satellite-based astronomical research program is awaiting governmental approval, chief scientist Zhang Shuangnan told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

A satellite will be launched around 2025, and within one year results could be expected from the enhanced X-ray Timing and Polarimetry mission, Zhang said. 

The mission is designed to study the state of matter under extreme conditions of density, gravity and magnetism, he explained.

More than 100 institutions in European countries including Italy, Germany, the UK and France will cooperate on the project, according to the academy's website.  

Primary targets for observation include isolated and binary neutron stars, strong magnetic field systems like magnetar-neutron stars and super massive black holes.

The mission's primary goals are the determination of the equation of state of matter at supra-nuclear density, the measurement of quantum electrodynamic effects in a highly magnetized star and accretion in strong gravity.
Newspaper headline: Tibet telescope almost ready


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