Basic knowledge of radiative transfer, digital data processing and in particular Fourier Transforms is expected.
Radio astronomy has a special place in modern astrophysics. It yields an unobscured view of the structure of our own Milky Way and other galaxies. It shows us a very diverse range of both thermal and non-thermal phenomena and objects. It maps out dust and molecules forming stars and planets in dark clouds. It uniquely probes magnetic fields across interstellar and intergalactic space. It reveals the distribution of dark matter in galaxies via observations of neutral hydrogen, the most abundant element in the Universe. Finally, it provides the only way to study the very earliest epochs of the Universe, by measurements of the cosmic microwave background and by studying the large-scale distribution of neutral hydrogen during the so-called dark ages and the epoch of reionisation, when stars began to shine for the first time, and active galaxies were forming.
This course provides an introduction to the tools, techniques, and science of radio astronomy. The discussion includes: fundamentals and some history of measuring cosmic radio signals, the basic properties of antennas and receivers, practical aspects of radio interferometry (incl. calibration and imaging techniques from ALMA to VLBI to LOFAR), overview of existing facilities and next generation radio telescopes (e.g. SKA). Specific science topics include molecular radiation and masers, sub-mm galaxies at high-z, pulsars, the early Universe.
The course includes practical sessions where students get a chance to make radio images from real interferometry data under close supervision. The students will be asked to report on a specific data processing assignment. The course concludes with a field trip to ASTRON and JIVE and the LOFAR and WSRT radio telescopes located in Drenthe.
Students will learn how specific astronomical phenomena can be studied at radio wavelengths and which type of telescopes match the requirements for such observations, including quantitative assessments of sensitivity and resolution. They will be familiar with the concepts of radio astronomy techniques and acquire basic skills for dealing with interferometry data. The course will require students to consult the scientific literature and produce a concise scientific report.
See MSc schedules.
Mode of instruction
Lectures & two “hands-on” practical data analysis sessions, plus field trip to visit ASTRON and JIVE and the LOFAR & WSRT Telescopes. The students will work (in pairs) on a specific assignment in radio data processing, for which they need to produce a report.
The report on the practical assignment makes up 25% of the grade and completing the assignment at least two weeks before the oral exam is mandatory. The oral exam will be by appointment. The exam will make up 75% of the grade and includes a discussion of the practical assignment.
Recommended books are:
Essential Radio Astronomy, Essential Radio Astronomy, James J. Condon & Scott M. Ransom, Princeton University press, ISBN: 9781400881161
Synthesis Imaging in Radio astronomy, Taylor, G. B.; Carilli, C. L.; Perley, R. A., ASP Conference Series, 180, ISBN 1-58381-005-6
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