Measurements of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) have proven to be a powerful probe of the physics of our universe. CMB observations are helping to address fundamental questions, such as the nature of dark energy and dark matter, and are being used to probe the physics of inflation at energies a trillion times higher than the Large Hadron Collider. Recent measurements led to several exciting first detections, including CMB lensing, massive galaxy clusters, the large-scale velocity field, and the “B-mode” component of the polarization field. These results have been enabled by the development of superconducting detectors and optics instrumentation, but we are now approaching the limits of current telescope facilities. Continuing advances in CMB research require greater sensitivity through major gains in optical throughput.
The CCAT-prime extreme field-of-view submillimeter telescope on Cerro Chajnantor will meet this challenge. The six-meter aperture telescope is designed to observe between 350um - 3mm and is capable of mapping the CMB roughly 10x faster than current observatories, making it a potential platform for the next generation “Stage IV” CMB survey. The first light instrument will take advantage of the unique CCAT-prime capabilities and site to characterize the large-scale velocity field and CMB polarization. In addition, CCAT-prime will enable spectroscopic intensity mapping of [CII] from early stars and galaxies during reionization and low-redshift galactic ecology. The intensity mapping measurements can be cross-correlated with upcoming neutral hydrogen surveys, and this combination may eventually characterize primordial non-Gaussianities beyond the reach of CMB measurements to provide new insights into the high-energy physics of inflation.