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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Galaxy cluster cosmology with the Atacama Cosmology Telescope Hasselfield, Matthew


Observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) are crucial components of our understanding of cosmology. Modern high resolution, ground-based CMB survey instruments provide important information about the mass and energy content of our present Universe and the high-energy physics of the Big Bang. In this work we present several aspects of our work on the Atacama Cosmology Telescope (ACT), a 6m telescope in Northern Chile that observed the CMB in three millimetre wavelength bands from 2007–2010. We begin with a description of the Multi-Channel Electronics readout system, an important component of the data acquisition systems for ACT and several other CMB observatories. The system provides room-temperature electronics and software for controlling and reading out arrays of Transition Edge Sensor bolometers via a cryogenic time-domain multiplexing system. We next present our measurement of the ACT point spread function, or beam, using observations of Solar System planets. An accurate understanding of the beam and its covariant error is essential for interpretation of astrophysical and cosmological signal in the ACT data. We then use our understanding of the beam and the instrument calibration to measure the brightness temperatures of Uranus and Saturn at millimetre wavelengths. Precise measurements of planetary brightnesses provide convenient calibration sources for other observatories at these wavelengths. Finally we present a sample of galaxy clusters detected in the ACT maps. We develop a new approach for the analysis of Sunyaev-Zeldovich signal that incorporates a model for the typical cluster pressure to better understand selection effects and evaluate cluster masses. Addressing the current level of systematic uncertainty in the overall mass calibration of clusters, we explore the cosmological constraints obtained when calibrating the mass relation based on pressure profile measurements from X-ray data and from models that take different approaches to the cluster physics. Ultimately we use dynamical mass estimates based on optical velocity dispersion measurements to obtain constraints on the amplitude of scalar fluctuations, the matter density, the Dark Energy equation of state parameter, and the sum of the neutrino mass species.

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