In this course you learn all aspects of radio astronomy, allowing you to relate radio observations to the astrophysical conditions in radio sources. Radio astronomy deals with both the electromagnetic processes in the Universe that produce radio emission, as well as the workings of the telescopes that measure this radio emission.
The lecture series, including guest lectures by experts, are complemented by practical computer classes, where you are coached to process state-of-the-art radio interferometry data. The course covers the whole spectrum from Mega-Hertz to sub-millimetre radiation and from the cosmic dawn to galactic star formation, focusing on how to interpret data with different frequency and spatial resolution. Also, polarimetry and variability are covered in this course.
In particular, the following aspects are covered:
Detection of radio waves, telescope and receiver characteristics
The workings of interferometers and their response
Data processing techniques, such as clean and self-calibration
The AGN phenomena and the brightest radio sources
Radio diagnostics of the cold and warm interstellar medium
Special radio sources, such as pulsars and masers
Design and data flow characteristics for interferometers, like LOFAR, VLBI, ALMA, SKA
Spectral line observation of molecules and HI throughout the universe
After this course you are ready to engage in scientific discussions that concern radio observations of any astrophysical phenomenon. You can compare how various radio telescopes and observing modes can be used optimally to determine the astrophysical processes that generate long wavelength emission.
In particular, after this course you can:
Quantify the sensitivity and resolution characteristics of specific telescopes
Verify the technical limits of the signal flow in telescopes and interferometers, including sampling and mixing
Apply various concepts in radio interferometry, like uv-coverage, weighting, deconvolution and hybrid mapping in discussions on scientific results
Distinguish various thermal and non-thermal processes generating radio emission
Categorize the various radio objects and phenomena in the universe
Perform basic sensitivity calculations in order to schedule or propose radio observations
Predict the response to spatial structures of radio telescope and interferometers in particular
During this course, you are trained in:
Relating abstract concepts to specific technical implementations
Finding your way through complex processing problems through trial and error.
Deducing ways to solve an observational problem from literature and documentation
Mode of instruction
Data processing tutorials
Data reduction and scientific reporting assignments
A field trip to ASTRON, JIVE, LOFAR, Westerbork and Dwingeloo
Report on practical assignment in radio data processing (35% of final grade, must be completed at least two weeks before the written exam)
Written exam (65% of final grade)
Blackboard will be used to communicate with students and to share lecture slides, homework assignments, and any extra materials. You must enroll on Blackboard before the first lecture. To have access, you need a student ULCN account.
Essential Radio Astronomy (J.J. Condon, S.M. Ransom), ISBN: 9781400881161 (recommended)
Synthesis Imaging in Radio Astronomy (G.B. Taylor, C.L. Carilli, R.A. Perley), ISBN 1-58381-005-6 (recommended)
Interferometry and Synthesis in Radio Astronomy (A.R. Thompson, J.M. Moran, G.W. Swenson Jr.), ISBN 9783319444314 (recommended, free download here)