RESEARCHER INVOLVED IN RESULTS FROM THE PLANCK SPACE MISSION

RESEARCHER INVOLVED IN RESULTS FROM THE PLANCK SPACE MISSION

A University of KwaZulu-Natal scientist has played an integral research role in ground-breaking findings released in Paris recently about the composition and evolution of the universe.

The scientist is Dr Cynthia Chiang who is attached to UKZN’s Astrophysics and Cosmology Research Unit.

Chiang is among researchers world-wide who have analysed data gathered from the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Planck international space observatory. 

Chiang said her work with the ESA mission began in 2009 when the  observatory was launched to map the cosmic microwave background – or the afterglow – of the Big Bang which is believed to have created the universe more than 13 billion years ago.

‘I analysed data – along with other scientists throughout the world – gathered from the high frequency instrument aboard the Planck observatory. This subset analysis is now complete and the results were released in Paris last week.

‘The analysis and research of data from the Planck mission continues and I am involved in this ongoing work,’ said Chiang.

The research focuses on exploring the history of the universe through precision measurements of the temperature and polarisation fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background.

According to a statement from ESA, Planck’s map of the cosmic microwave background over the sky is the best ever produced. By analysing it in detail, scientists have made important findings about the composition and evolution of the universe from its birth to the present day and beyond.

Chiang specialises in building millimetre-wavelength telescopes and analysing data, and her past research projects include a variety of ground, balloon and satellite-based telescopes.

She recently spent a year in Antarctica working as a scientist for the South Pole Telescope (SPT), a 10-metre telescope which has been observing the microwave sky since 2006 producing high resolution pictures of the early universe.

Chiang was previously a post-doctoral scholar in the physics department at the University of Chicago in the United States.


author email : gregdardagan@telkomsa.net