BLAST: The Balloon-Borne Large Aperture Submillimeter Telescope
BLAST, or the "Balloon-borne Large-Aperture Sub-millimeter Telescope," will fly from a Long Duration Balloon (LDB) platform and incorporate a 2-meter primary mirror with large-format bolometer arrays operating at 250, 350, and 500 μm. By providing the first sensitive large-area (~0.5-40 deg2) submillimeter surveys at these wavelengths, BLAST will address some of the most important cosmological and Galactic questions regarding the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies and clusters.
The motivation for building the original BLAST was to provide the first sensitive large-area (~0.5-40 deg2) submillimeter surveys to address important cosmological and Galactic questions regarding the formation and evolution of stars, galaxies, and clusters. BLAST's primary goals were to:
- Measure photometric redshifts, rest-frame FIR luminosities and star formation rates of high-redshift starburst galaxies, thereby constraining the evolutionary history of those galaxies that produce the FIR/submillimeter background.
- Measure cold pre-stellar sources associated with the earliest stages of star and planet formation.
- Make high-resolution maps of diffuse galactic emission over a wide range of galactic latitudes.
Through its three science flights, BLAST has succeeded in all of these goals!
BLASTPol was a rebuilt and enhanced version of the BLAST telescope, with added linear polarization capability, making it a uniquely sensitive polarimeter for probing polarized Galactic dust emission. BLASTPol made two Antarctic flights in 2010 and 2012 with the goals of addressing the role magnetic fields play in star forming regions. In particular BLASTPol sought to answer the following questions:
- Is molecular core morphology determined by large-scale magnetic fields?
- Do filamentary structures within clouds have magnetic origins?
- How strong are magnetic fields in molecular clouds, and how does the field strength vary from cloud to cloud?
Though analysis is ongoing, early results of observations of the Lupus I molecular cloud appear to be consistent with the picture of a primary filament approximately perpendicular to the large-scale magnetic field, with secondary filaments running nearly parallel to the field (Matthews et al. 2013: arXiv:1307.5853).