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Durham University

Department of Physics

Staff profile

Publication details for Prof Richard Massey

Rhodes, J., Fraisse, A.A., Jones, W.C., Netterfield, C.B. & Massey, R. (2014), SuperBIT: Wide-field, Sub-arcsecond Imaging from the Super Pressure Balloon Platform, American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts 224: American Astronomical Society Meeting Abstracts \#224. American Astronomical Society, #417.07.

Author(s) from Durham


The scientific potential of near-diffraction-limited imaging from mid-latitude ultra-long duration balloon payloads is well known. The combination of diffraction-limited angular resolution, extreme stability, space-like backgrounds, and long integrations enables transformative opportunities in studies ranging from the weak lensing of galaxy clusters and cosmic shear to the search for exoplanets. Collaborators at the University of Toronto have recently integrated a half-meter class telescope with a prototype subarcsecond pointing system. SuperBIT will adapt the existing system to the requirements of the mid-latitude super-pressure balloon (SPB) payload, and demonstrate its imaging capability during an ultra-long duration balloon flight that will take off from Wanaka, New Zealand, in the 2016-17 Austral summer. The demonstration instrument will provide imaging with a half-degree field of view and 0.3-arcsecond resolution in five bands between 300 and1000 nm, with sensitivities in the shape-band exceeding 24th magnitude(>5 sigma) in 300 seconds of integration. Our observing schedule will be split between a performance verification sample, a photometric and spectroscopic calibration set, a deep field, and a science catalog. The performance verification set prioritizes a sample of thirty clusters that have been previously well studied with the HST Advanced Camera for Surveys, the Chandra X-ray observatory, and for which there are Compton-Y parameter data from millimeter-wavelengths. The photometric calibration set will be selected from the COSMOS field. The science catalog will draw from a set of more than 150 Sunyaev-Zel’dovich, X-ray, and optically selected clusters spanning a wide range of cluster masses and morphologies. Aside from demonstrating the technical approach, these data will enable a systematic program to constrain the mass-observable relations over an unprecedented scale. A successful demonstration of the technical approach and the scientific potential will motivate future development of facility-class instruments on the SPB platform.