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 early history of measuring cosmic radio signals, the basic properties of antennas and receivers, practical aspects of radio interferometery (incl. calibration and imaging techniques form 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, the CMB and Epoch of Reionisation studies and SETI (the search for extraterrestrial intelligence).
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 an all-expenses paid field trip to ASTRON and JIVE and the LOFAR and WSRT radio telescopes located in Drenthe!
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.
Oral, by appointment. The exam will include a discussion of the practical assignment.
Some background on basic interferometry is useful but not mandatory.
See Master schedules
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