Fall 2020 > IAS Community

Progress on the Ultra-Fast Astronomy (UFA) Research Project Led by Prof. George SMOOT, IAS TT & WF Chao Foundation Professor

As one of the projects of the Quantum Optics for Astrophysics and Cosmology Laboratory, the first on-sky calibration test of the silicon photomultiplier detector (SiPM) and verification of the possible use of the SiPM as a UFA detector was carried out at the Assy-Turgen Astrophysical Observatory last October by Albert LAU Wai-Kit, an HKUST PhD student who is developing a fast detector camera under Prof. George Smoot’s supervision. The initial measurements using the silicon single-photon detector for UFA have been achieved, and further developments and field tests will be performed to explore the high time-resolution domain of astrophysics. This project is being performed in collaboration with Nazarbayev University in Kazakhstan, the University of California, Berkeley, USA, and the University of Paris, France, to develop a silicon-based single-photon sensor array for detection of possible ultra-fast astronomical and cosmological signals, with a focus on ultra-fast astronomical events.

Lau is also working with CHAN Yan-Yan, an HKUST undergraduate student, on a project titled “Setup of an Automated Telescope System as Sensor Testbench” which has recently received funding from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program, an HKUST signature program designed to provide undergraduate students with an opportunity to engage in academic research. The project, which is supervised by Smoot, will develop a telescope system from commercial parts and specific software for testing of different types of astronomical sensors including photon counting devices. The telescope will act as a local testbench before moving the sensor onto remote observatories.