An Overview of the CCAT project

On April 1, 2015, Prof. Martha P. Haynes from Cornell University visited NAOC and gave a lecture introducing aspects of the Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope (CCAT) project. CCAT will be a 25-meter wide-field submillimeter telescope with a field of view of up to 1 square degree. Throughout the talk, Prof. Haynes demonstrated how the functionality of CCAT will complement that of ALMA. She began the talk by showing the geographic location where CCAT will be built, which is very near where ALMA is also being constructed in the high Atacama desert of northern Chile. This site is good because, although it has a high altitude, there is already a road as well as other infrastructures nearby that will facilitate construction at a relatively low cost. During the lecture, she showed a photo taken in 1998 with the former president of Chile at a ceremony making that region of the Atacama desert a science preserve.

Prof. Haynes continued by showing how CCAT's wide field of view and high data acquisition rate will form a synergy with measurements made by ALMA. In fact, she said that CCAT can be called the LSST of infrared astronomy because of its wide-field capabilities. CCAT will be able to measure and characterize the history of dusty star formation in galaxies. In addition, it will be able to measure temperatures of gas and the dispersal of clouds, which are important in the evolution of the interstellar medium. Specialists in astrochemistry will also be able to utilize the functionality of CCAT by studying the behavior of molecules in space. Prof. Haynes ended her talk by saying that CCAT and ALMA form a “Dream Team” in the field of submilleter astronomy. Researchers around the world are anticipating new results from these pioneering facilities.

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