BigBOSS-UK development

Lead Research Organisation: University College London
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy


BigBOSS is a ground-based dark energy experiment to study the cosmological expansion rate and the growth of structure with a wide-angle spectroscopic galaxy and quasar redshift survey. A wide range of additional science is possible using the 5000 fibre multi-object spectrograph required for this experiment, including studying galaxy formation and evolution, galaxycluster surveys, the structure of the Milky-Way galaxy and Galactic archeology.

In order to undertake the proposed survey, a US-Europe China collaboration has come together with the aim of constructing a 5000-fiber spectrograph that will initially deploy on the Mayall 4m-telescope. The key science goals represent a field in which the UK has world leadership and strong scientific interest, built up through STFC support for participation in the 2-degree Field Galaxy Redshift Survey and the Dark Energy Survey.

This grant provides development funding for two key areas of hardware development where the UK has internationally regarded expertise - the optical corrector, and the fibre system, and will retain UK involve

Planned Impact

Skill development: The BigBOSS project will develop the skills of ~10 PhD students and ~4 technical staff. The PhD students will be mostly in the data processing and data analysis areas. The technical staff will mostly be in the instrumentation area.

Fibre system: The massively multiplexed fibre system of BigBOSS provides a significant technical challenge in developing an efficient coupling to the BigBOSS spectrographs. Techniques to be investigated in this study could have wide applicability to spectral image reformatters based on optical fibres and applied in fields as diverse as process inspection and remote diagnostics, where access to the target area is restricted.

Optical system: The BigBoss optical system comprises of lenses of 0.9-1.25m in diameter which need to be aligned to within tolerances of approximately 100 micrometers. This poses a major challange to the mounting and alignment of the lenses along with the testing of the complete system. Advances in mounting and alignment of large lenses coupled with large optics production developments at OpTiC, North Wales, give the UK the potential to produce large optical systems for use, for example, in proposed high power laser facilities such as the High Power laser Energy Research facility (HYPER).


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Gualdi Davide (2019) Enhancing BOSS bispectrum cosmological constraints with maximal compression in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Loureiro Arthur (2019) Cosmological measurements from angular power spectra analysis of BOSS DR12 tomography in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Naidoo Krishna (2020) Beyond two-point statistics: using the minimum spanning tree as a tool for cosmology in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

Description This research developed ways to mount and align the large metre class lenses needed for the next generation of astronomical wide field spectroscopic surveys.
Exploitation Route The mounting of large lenses is a interest of many future instruments for astronomical research.
Sectors Education,Other

Description The research was part of an international project to develop the design of a next generation multi-object spectroscopic instrument. This research led to the UK involvement in the DESI instrument to be installed on the Mayall 4m telescope in Arizona.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Education
Description The DES First light was reported in October 2019 on BBC TV News at 10, BBC World Service and other media 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The DES First light was reported in October 2019 on BBC TV News at 10, BBC World Service and other media
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019