Juan is an observational cosmologist that designs and builds novel instrumentation to improve the 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 more than 1000 FRB sources as of mid 2020, including more than a dozen sources of repeating bursts and one that shows periodic activity. Juan is now working on the design and construction of CHIME/FRB Outriggers, a large-scale program to deploy CHIME-like outrigger telescopes at continental baseline distances to form a specialized interferometric radio telescope several thousands of kilometers across that will provide precise localizations for hundreds of FRBs each year. These localizations will provide unique information about the physical environments and emission mechanisms that generate FRBs and allow their use as cosmological probes.
Hydrogen intensity mapping
Fast Radio Bursts
Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME)