Ultra-High Resolution Astronomical Imaging Using Quantum Properties of Light

Dr. Dave Kieda
Chairman, Department of Physics and Astronomy
University of Utah


Ever since the first astronomical telescope observations made by Galileo (1610), optical astronomy has developed increasingly sophisticated methods for exploring the universe using only the classical (wave-description) properties of light. The quantum mechanical properties of light, including photon bunching and orbital angular momentum, carry substantially more information about the nature of the astronomical sources, yet these properties are currently not exploited. This talk will describe the development of a new astronomical capability which exploits the quantum properties of light. The technique has the potential to achieve < 100 micro-arcsecond angular resolution in the optical wavelengths; such high angular resolution would be sufficient to directly imaging the moons of Jupiter passing across the disk of a main sequence star ~8 light years away. We describe a conclusive demonstration of quantum photon bunching in the laboratory using simulated stars and binary systems, and observation of photon bunching on nearby stars using the twin 3-m diameter telescopes at StarBase, Utah. We describe the design of a future ultra-high resolution optical astronomical imaging observatory using existing and future arrays of Imaging Air Cherenkov Telescopes (IACTs). The talk describes the expected optical imaging resolution of an upcoming SII augmentation to the VERITAS IACT observatory array (Amado, Arizona) and to the future CTA IACT Observatory (Canary Islands, Spain and Paranal, Chile).

Short Biography

David Kieda is the Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Utah, and Professor of Physics and Astronomy. He received his bachelor's degree in Physics from MIT in 1983 working in superconductivity. He was awarded a PhD in Physics (Experimental Astrophysics) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1989 working at the Homestake Neutrino Obsveratory with Ken Lande and Ray Davis, Jr. He has been at the University of Utah since 1989, pursuing a broad experimental research using a range of cosmic-ray and gamma-ray astronomy observatories. His current research is in the field of high energy gamma-ray astronomy and astrophysics, as well as experimental quantum astronomy He was awarded Fellowship in the American Physical Society in 2011, and was awarded the Utah Governor's Medal of Science and Technology in 2013. Prior to serving as Dean, he served as Chair of the Department of Physics and Astronomy.