South Pole Telescope Sub-Millimeter Galaxies


Half of the energy produced since recombination has been absorbed and reemitted by dust.
This radiation, the cosmic infrared background (CIB), is produced primarily by dusty, star-forming galaxies (DSFGs) at z~1-3, with a tail extending beyond z>6.
These objects were first identified in submillimeter-wavelength (submm) surveys of the extragalactic
sky and found to be orders of magnitude more abundant in the early Universe than the present day.
These studies upended our view of cosmic star formation, demonstrating that the bulk of star formation activity in the Universe could be taking place in DSFGs that were invisible in optical and ultraviolet surveys due to dust obscuration.

Recently, large-area millimeter/submillimeter surveys have become available and proven to be efficient for selecting rare (<0.1 per sq. deg.), gravitationally lensed DSFGs. Due to the strong gravitational lensing, these objects typically appear an order of magnitude more luminous than the bulk DSFG population, with a corresponding increase in their solid angle on the sky. This provides a spectacular reduction in the integration times required to detect lensed sources, makes weak spectral lines accessible, and magnifies the resolving power of our telescopes.

The South Pole Telescope (SPT) has systematically identified a large number of high-redshift strongly gravitationally lensed starburst galaxies in a 2500 square degree cosmological survey of the millimeter (mm) sky. These sources are selected by their extreme mm flux, which is largely independent of redshift and lensing configuration. The flux magnification provided by the gravitational lensing enabled us to perform a spectroscopic redshift survey with the recently commissioned Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA). We targeted 26 SPT sources and obtained redshifts via molecular carbon monoxide (CO) lines. With a 90% detection rate, our ALMA+SPT CO redshift survey is the most complete DSFG survey to date. We determine that roughly 35% of these sources lie at z>4, indicating the fraction of dusty starburst galaxies at high-redshift is far higher than previously thought. Two sources a re at z=5.7, placing them among the highest redshift starbursts known, and demonstrating that large reservoirs of molecular gas and dust can be present in massive galaxies near the end of the epoch of cosmic reionization. These sources were additionally targeted with high resolution imaging with ALMA, unambiguously demonstrating them to be strongly gravitationally lensed by foreground structure, and enabling us to make detailed and robust lens models.

The SPT has identified the brightest high-redshift sources in the extragalactic sky visible from ALMA, and assembled a sample of ~100 strongly lensed, dusty, starburst galaxies. We are undertaking a comprehensive and systematic followup campaign to use these “cosmic magnifying glasses” to study the infrared background in unprecedented detail, inform the condition of the interstellar medium in starburst galaxies at high redshift, and place limits on dark matter substructure.


title=”Group Publications”]

SPT strong lensed SMG discovery and catalog paper here (ApJ):
Vieira et al. 2010
You can get the catalog and source counts from the first 100 square degrees here

Submm imaging, SED fitting, and photometric redshift method (ApJ):
Greve et al. 2012

The first ALMA blind redshift search and strong lensing (Nature):
Vieira et al. 2013

ALMA spectra and spectroscopic redshift distribution from carbon monoxide (ApJ):
Weiss et al. 2013

ALMA imaging and lens models of strongly lensed SMGs (ApJ):
Hezaveh et al. 2013

CO(1-0) at z~3 with ATCA (MNRAS):
Aravena et al. 2013

The conditions of the ISM in one of our best characterized sources (ApJ):
Bothwell et al. 2013

The composite mm spectrum of SMGs (ApJ):
Spilker et al. 2014

A survey of [CII] at high redshift (MNRAS):
Gullberg et al. 2015

Sub-Kiloparsec imaging of cool molecular gas in two strongly lensed dusty, star forming galaxies (ApJ):
Spilker et al. 2015

Stellar masses and specific star formation rates for 6 strongly lensed dusty, star forming galaxies (ApJ):
Ma et al. 2015

The star formation in the dense environments of z~1 lensing haloes from SPT and Planck (MNRAS):
Welikala et al. 2016

CO(1-0) survey with ATCA (MNRAS):
Aravena et al. 2016

High-z detection of [NII] with ALMA (A&A):
Bethermin et al. 2016

Redshift survey (ApJ):
Strandet et al. 2016

Lens Models from ALMA imaging (ApJ):
Spilker et al. 2016

Galaxy growth in a massive halo in the first billion years of cosmic history (Nature):
Marrone et al. 2017

A massive core for a cluster of galaxies at a redshift of 4.3 (Nature):
Miller et al. 2018

Fast molecular outflow from a dusty star-forming galaxy in the early Universe (Science):
Spilker et al. 2018

Conference proceedings and overview here:
NRAO VandenBout Fest 2013

A nice review in Nature by Andrew Blain:
News & Views
also here

LA Times

Discovery Magazine

Science Daily


Universe Today


Kavli Spotlight

title=”Press Releases”]

U. Chicago March 2013
Caltech March 2013
ESO March 2013
NSF March 2013
NRAO March 2013
Arizona March 2013
McGill March 2013
Max Planck March 2013


A recent talk (somewhat redacted):
May 2013



Internal SPT SMG wiki

Public SPT page here: SPT


Manuel Aravena (UDP)
Matt Ashby (CfA)
Matthieu Bethermin (ESO)
Matt Bothwell (Cambridge)
John Carlstrom (U. Chicago)
Scott Chapman (Dalhousie)
Tom Crawford (U. Chicago)
Carlos DeBreuck (ESO)
Chris Fassnacht (UC Davis)
Anthony Gonzalez (U. Florida)
Thomas Greve (UCL)
Bitten Gullberg (ESO)
Yashar Hezaveh (Stanford)
Sree Vani Jarugula (Illinois)
Katrina Litke (Arizona)
Jingzhe Ma (U. Florida)
Matt Malkan (UCLA)
Dan Marrone (U. Arizona)
Kaja Rotermund (Dalhousie)
Justin Spilker (U. Arizona)
Brian Stalder (Harvard)
Antony Stark (CfA)
Maria Strandet (MPIfR)
Joaquin Vieira (U. Illinois)
Axel Weiss (MPIfR)
Niraj Welikala (IAS/Oxford)


Collaboration photo July 2018, New York City, New York:

From left to right:

Front: Frank Fu, Sidney Lower, Carlos DeBreuck, Matt Malkan, Cassie Reuter, Jingzhe Ma, Sreevani Jarugula, Yordanka Apostolovski, Katrina Litke

Middle: Dan Marrone, Anthony Gonzalez, Justin Spilker, Chris Hayward, Scott Chapman, Warren Morningstar,  Antony Stark, Chenxing Dong, Kedar Phadke

Back: Axel Weiss, Chian-Chou Chen, Thomas Greve, Manuel Aravena

Collaboration photo July 2017, Tucson, Arizona:


From left to right:
Matt Malkan, Brian Stalder, Axel Weiss, Chian-Chou Chen, Warren Morningstar, Kedar Phadke, Joaquin Vieira, Matthieu Bethermin, Carlos DeBreuck, Dan Marrone, Chris Hayward, Justin Spilker, Manuel Aravena, Katrina Litke, Scott Chapman, Sreevani Jarugula, Chenxing Dong, Daniel Cunningham

Collaboration photo July 2016, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois:

From left to right:
David Booke, Sidney Lower, Jennifer Li, Matt Malkan, Sreevani Jarugula, Thomas Greve, Dan Marrone, Tony Stark, Brian Stalder, Manuel Aravena, Anthony Gonzalez, Joaquin Vieira, Carlos DeBreuck, Maria Strandet, Axel Weiss, Desika Narayanan, Jingzhe Ma, Kaja Rotermund, Chris Hayward, Katrina Litke, Justin Spilker, Tim Miller

Collaboration photo July 2015, Urbana-Champaign, Illinois:


From left to right:

Joaquin Vieira, Kaja Rotermund, Katrina Litke, Jingzhe Ma, Tony Stark, Justin Spilker, Matt Malkan, Yashar Hezaveh, Axel Weiss, Scott Chapman, Anthony Gonzalez, Carlos DeBreuck, Dan Marrone, Maria Strandet

Collaboration photo June 2014, Garching, Germany:


From left to right:
Joaquin Vieira, Dan Marrone, Axel Weiss, Carlos DeBreuck, Niraj Welikala, Maria Strandet, Thomas Greve, Bitten Gullberg, Chris Fassnacht, Justin Spilker, Kate Husband, Matt Malkan, Matt Bothwell, Yashar Hezaveh, Matthieu Bethermin

Collaboration photo July 2013, Pasadena, CA:


From left to right:
Brian Stalder, Jingzhe Ma, Manuel Aravena, Tony Stark, Maria Strandet, Scott Chapman, Bitten Gullberg, Thomas Greve, Axel Weiss, Kaja Rotermund, James Aguirre, Joaquin Vieira, Anthony Gonzalez, Carlos DeBreuck, Justin Spilker, Niraj Welikala, Matthieu Bethermin, Dan Marrone, Tom Crawford, Wendy Everett, Erik Shirokoff

Collaboration photo August 2012, Pasadena, CA:


From left to right:
Scott Chapman, Thomas Greve, James Aguirre, Yashar Hezaveh, Dan Marrone, Chris Fassnacht, Niraj Welikala, Anthony Gonzalez, Brian Stalder, Mark Brodwin, Matt Bothwell, Justin Spilker, Joaquin Vieira, Tom Crawford, Axel Weiss

SPT on the Big Bang Theory, Season 6 Episode 21, April 25, 2013:


For questions and inquiries, contact Joaquin Vieira