BOOMERANG Gondola Barth Netterfield
Balloon Borne Astrophysics

Lab: ES4150
Lab Phone: (416) 946-0946
Address:  University of Toronto
Dept. Of Astronomy
50 St. George  Street
Toronto, Ontario, M5S 1A7

e-mail: netterfield at astro dot utoronto dot ca

Brief CV

Professor: 2008 -
Associate Professor: 2003 - 2008
Assistant Professor: 1999 - 2003
     Departments of  Physics and Astronomy 
     University of Toronto
Millikan Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
     California Institute of Technology (1996-1999)
Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
     Princeton University (1994-1996)
Ph.D. Physics
     Princeton University (1995)
B.S. Physics
     Bethel College (1990)

Research Interests
Research in Observational Cosmology is providing answers to long posed questions of wide general interest and long term relevance. With broad advances in technology, we are on the brink of settling long standing issues and perhaps opening doors to new avenues of inquiry. It is in this compelling field that my research interests lie. Currently, our group is involved in measurements of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) and with new measurements of the sub-mm sky.

Also check out kst, a really cool open source plotting/data viewing tool I work on while riding the TTC.


The detection and characterization of anisotropies in the CMB offers an unprecedented look at the distribution of matter at the surface of last scattering (z ~= 1100). Many current theories of large scale structure formation predict characteristic features in the angular spectrum at scales smaller than the horizon size at the redshift of last scattering. Determining the angular spectrum has allowed differentiation between various cosmological models, and the determination of cosmological parameters, including  Omega (the energy density of the universe), Lambda (the vacuum energy density), and Ho (the expansion parameter). 

Previous experiments which I have been involved with, the ground based Saskatoon experiment (my Ph.D. thesis), and the balloon borne  QMAP  measured the degree scale angular power spectrum of the CMB.

BOOMERANG is a balloon born mm-wave telescope designed to measure anisotropies in the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB). This balloon borne experiment has revolutionised the field of cosmic microwave background anisotropy measurements, and cosmology, as was widely reported in the popular media. The results from our highly successful Long Duration Balloon (LDB) flight in 1998/1999 have:

  • confirmed that the angular spectrum of the cosmic microwave background is consistent with inflationary/adiabatic hot Big Bang cosmology
  • confirmed that the Universe is geometrically very close to flat
  • confirmed that the baryon content of the Universe is small, consistent with light element abundance measurements
  • When used in combination with Large Scale Structure measurements, confirmed that the energy density of the universe is dominated by a 'dark energy' term, consistent with measurements of Type 1a supernova.

The BOOMERANG telescope was upgraded for a 2nd LDB flight in 2003 to measure the power spectrum of the polarisation of the Cosmic Microwave Background with high S/N from l ~50 to 1500.

The benefit added from polarisation measurements includs

  • Conclusive confirmation of the origins of the temperature anisotropies.
  • Improved constraints on cosmological parameters
  • Probing the epoch of inflation
  • A measurement of the epoch of reionization

Related Links:

BLAST, a Balloon-borne Large Aperture Sub-millimetre Telescope, will probe the sub-mm sky with unprecedented sensitivity, providing the opportunity to conduct unique galactic and extra-galactic surveys. This stratospheric facility will have a combination of sensitivity, spectral coverage and angular resolution unmatched by any facility in the world. The sensitivity at 250um is several orders of magnitude better than other existing and proposed instruments until the launch of the ESA sattelite Herschel. BLAST is a multinational collaboration which includes researchers from the UK, the US, Mexico, and Canada.

A single Long Duration flight will attain the following science goals:

  • Conduct large area extra-galactic surveys in three wavelength bands from 250 to 550 um, detecting approximately 1500 high redshift galaxies.

    These results, especially when used in tandem with measurements made at 850um on SCUBA and at 160um on SIRTF will allow us to determine the redshifts, rest-frame luminosities, star formation rates (SFRs) and evolutionary history of starburst galaxies in the high-z universe, and identify the galaxy populations responsible for producing the far-IR background. Our measurements will provide the basis for designing future Herschel survey strategies.

  • Observe objects within our solar system including the planets and large asteroids.
  • Map a 5 degree by 30 degree portion of the galactic plane near the Galactic Centre at high signal-to-noise ra

    These measurements, and detailed comparisons with surveys at longer and shorter wavelengths (CGPS, SCUBA, MSX, SIRTF) will improve our understanding of the ISM and the evolution of inter-stellar dust. BLAST will also conduct surveys of galactic molecular clouds and identify cold pre-stellar cores associated with the earliest stages of star formation.


Related Links:

Vjera Miovic Ph.D. Student in Physics
Marco Viero Ph.D. Student in Astronomy
Laura Fissel Ph.D. Student in Astronomy
Steve Benton Ph.D. Student in Physics
Marzieh Farhang Ph.D. Student in Astronomy
Natalie Gandilo Ph.D. Student in Astronomy
Juan Soler Ph.D. Student in Astronomy

PDFs and Friends
Don Wiebe 
Carrie MacTavish CITA PDF
Olivier Dore CITA Senior RA


This page is maintained by Barth Netterfield.
Last updated  Nov. 2008