Speaker: Prof Peter Wilkinson, University of Manchester, UK
The study of atomic hydrogen throughout the universe was one of the prime scientific drivers for the SKA and I’ve long wanted to offer DARA students, and potential future recruits, the chance to make their own hydrogen line observations. Introductory work is often based on parabolic dishes ~3m in diameter, which are expensive. The low-cost Table-top Radio Telescope (TTRT) is much smaller but its sensitivity is sufficient to give students the thrill of observing clouds of galactic hydrogen and detecting the differential rotation of the Milky Way.
In e-seminar #1 I described the principles of 21cm hydrogen line observations and how radio astronomers revealed that the Milky Way has spiral arms. In e-seminar #2 I will describe the TTRT equipment and how to take, calibrate and analyse the data it produces. Some results of Milky Way observations made from my garden in the UK will be presented.
This is NOT a quick-look “gee whizz” experiment but a real introduction to radio astronomy observations and data reduction. Students will have to work carefully and systematically to get reliable, quantitative, results. The aim of this seminar is to provide students with a confidence-building pathway so that, working with the explanatory script, they will be able to use the TTRT with the minimum of supervision.