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The Simons Observatory: Science goals and forecasts

Presentation #214.02 in the session “CMB”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
The Simons Observatory: Science goals and forecasts

The Simons Observatory (SO) is a new cosmic microwave background experiment being built on Cerro Toco in Chile, due to begin observations in the early 2020s. We describe the scientific goals of the experiment, and forecast its performance. The initial configuration of SO will have three small-aperture 0.5-m telescopes (SATs) and one large-aperture 6-m telescope (LAT), with a total of 60,000 cryogenic bolometers. The SATs will target the largest angular scales observable from Chile, mapping around 10% of the sky to a white noise level of 2 μK-arcmin in combined 93 and 145 GHz bands, to measure the primordial tensor-to-scalar ratio, r, at a target level of σ(r)=0.003. The LAT will map around 40% of the sky at arcminute angular resolution to an expected white noise level of 6 μK-arcmin in combined 93 and 145 GHz bands, overlapping with the majority of the sky area of the Legacy Survey of Space and Time (LSST) on the Vera C. Rubin Observatory sky region. It will also partially overlap with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI) field of view. Other talks in this session will describe the optimization and design of the SAT and LAT, this talk will present our science forecasts with SO. Our key science goals are to characterize the primordial perturbations, measure the number of relativistic species and the mass of neutrinos, test for deviations from a cosmological constant, improve our understanding of galaxy evolution, and constrain the duration of reionization. With up to ten times the sensitivity and five times the angular resolution of the Planck satellite, and roughly an order of magnitude increase in mapping speed over currently operating (“Stage 3”) experiments, SO will measure the CMB temperature and polarization fluctuations to exquisite precision in six frequency bands from 27 to 280 GHz. The high-resolution sky maps will constrain cosmological parameters derived from the damping tail, gravitational lensing of the microwave background, the primordial bispectrum, and the thermal and kinematic Sunyaev-Zel’dovich effects, and will aid in delensing the large-angle polarization signal to measure the tensor-to-scalar ratio. The survey will also provide a legacy catalog of 16,000 galaxy clusters in the nominal SO mission, and more than 20,000 extragalactic sources.

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