Juan is an observational cosmologist that designs and builds novel instruments to improve our understanding of the origin, composition, and evolution of the Universe.
Juan studied Electrical engineering at Universidad de Antioquia (Colombia) and then he moved to Canada to study Honours Mathematics and Physics at McGill University. He obtained his PhD in Physics from McGill University in 2018, and after that he joined MIT as a Kavli Postdoctoral Fellow.
During his graduate studies he worked at the McGill Cosmology Instrumentation Laboratory on the commissioning of the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME), a novel radio telescope designed to measure the 21 cm emission from neutral hydrogen in order to study the expansion history of the universe and probe the nature of Dark Energy. Juan was a key member of the team that designed and commissioned the state-of-the-art backend that implements the CHIME high-bandwidth radio correlator, the world’s largest of its kind. Now that CHIME is operating at high efficiency and performing the largest volume astronomical survey to date, his work is centered on the development of calibration and data analysis techniques to characterize the instrument and separate the weak 21 cm signal from bright astrophysical foregrounds.
Juan’s technology contributions also enabled the use of CHIME to study the radio transient sky, including the mysterious Fast Radio Bursts (FRBs). FRBs are short-duration pulses of radio light of unknown extragalactic origin. Even though thousands of FRB events occur over the full sky every day, their detection with traditional radio telescopes is very challenging due to the random, non-repeating nature of the vast majority of bursts. Thanks to its unique design and powerful correlator, CHIME has become the world’s leading FRB detector, finding hundreds of FRBs each year. Juan is now working on the construction of CHIME/FRB Outriggers, a set specialized telescopes separated by continental-scale distances that will use very-long-baseline interferometry (VLBI) to provide precise localizations for FRBs detected by CHIME. These localizations will provide unique information about the physical environments and emission mechanisms that generate FRBs and allow their use as cosmological probes.
Juan also plays a leading role in the Canadian Hydrogen Observatory and Radio-transient Detector (CHORD), a next-generation instrument that will complement CHIME with large arrays of ultra-wideband dish telescopes, significantly improving CHIME’s angular resolution and sensitivity for both cosmology and radio transient science.
Hydrogen intensity mapping
Fast Radio Bursts
Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME)