McGill astronomers earn spot on list of 2013 Top 10 breakthroughs

Published: 18 December 2013

Physics World cites work by South Pole Telescope team

Scientists in McGill’s Astrophysics group have been honoured in Physics World magazine’s list of top 10 breakthroughs in physics for 2013.

Astronomers on the South Pole Telescope international team, including several from McGill, were recognized by the magazine for being the first to measure certain patterns in the universe’s oldest light – a discovery that opens the way to test a key theory in the Big Bang model of the universe. The magazine, published by the Institute of Physics, unveiled its list on December 13.

Physics World reported last July that the South Pole Telescope (SPT) collaboration had made the first detection of a subtle twist, known as B-mode polarization, in light from the cosmic microwave background (CMB). “The signal, the existence of which has been long predicted, paves the way for a definitive test of inflation,” the universe’s dramatic expansion in the moments following the Big Bang, the magazine reported.

McGill postdoctoral researcher Duncan Hanson was lead author of the study. Co-authors from the multi-institutional collaboration include McGill professors Matt Dobbs and Gil Holder as well as researchers Amy Bender, Tijmen de Haan and Graeme Smecher. The SPT collaboration is led by University of Chicago Prof. John Carlstrom.

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