Bengaluru-based Raman Research Institute (RRI) is aiming at making radio astronomy so easily accessible and exciting to undergraduate science students “that they should be able to reach an observatory even in their pyjamas after dinner”.
To achieve that, the institute is working on a project – a first in India – to see academic institutions open up radio astronomy observatories on their respective campuses to fire up the passion among students who can conduct creative research in this field.
As of now, three Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), two Indian Institutes of Science Education and Research (IISERs), the Thiruvananthapuram-based Indian Institute of Space Technology (IIST) as well as BITS Pilani in Rajasthan, have evinced interest in joining the RRI project, named Sky Watch Array Network (SWAN).
Astronomers have created a virtual Earth-space radio telescope more than 100,000 miles across – a super-high resolution that reveals new details of a quasar and our Milky Way. The researchers were surprised when their Earth-space system revealed a temperature hotter then 10 trillion degrees. “Only this space-Earth system could reveal this temperature, and now we have to figure out how that environment can reach such temperatures,” said RadioAstron scientist Yuri Kovalev. “This result is a significant challenge to our current understanding of quasar jets,” he added.
Using an orbiting radio telescope in conjunction with four ground-based radio telescopes, the team achieved the highest resolution of any astronomical observation ever made. The feat produced a pair of surprises that promise to advance the understanding of quasars, supermassive black holes at the cores of galaxies. The scientists combined the Russian Radio- Astron satellite with the ground-based telescopes to produce a virtual radio telescope. They pointed this system at a quasar called 3C 273, more than two billion light-years from Earth. Quasars like 3C 273 propel huge jets of material outward at speeds nearly that of light. These powerful jets emit radio waves.
The sound of merging supermassive black holes does not saturate the universe.
For the past decade, scientists with the North American Nanohertz Observatory for Gravitational Waves (NANOGrav) collaboration have been listening for a constant “hum” of low-frequency gravitational waves.
Theoretical work suggests that this hum — generated by collisions involving supermassive black holes, which contain millions or billions of times more mass than the sun — should be detectable at Earth. NANOGrav hasn’t heard the hum yet, a new study reveals, but this lack of detection is an interesting result in its own right, revealing new details of how galaxies might evolve and merge, team members said. [The Search for Gravitational Waves in Pictures]
Ask a hundred people why they like to escape to the forest and you’ll probably get a hundred reasons, but chances are good that more than a few will say they seek the peace and quiet of the woods. And while the woods can be a raucous place between the wildlife and the human visitors, it is indeed a world apart from a busy city street, at least in the audio frequencies. But on the EM spectrum, most forests are nearly as noisy as your average cube farm, and that turns out to be a huge problem if you happen to run exquisitely sensitive radio receivers.
Like so many aspects of our contemporary technological life, the NRQZ can trace its roots all the way back to the Cold War era. When the Soviet Union launched Sputnik and started the Space Race, the US was far behind and knew it. Playing catch-up involved building all the infrastructure needed to support a space-faring culture, and radio astronomy was a big part of those early efforts. Finding a convenient place to build that infrastructure that was not subject to a lot of interference was an imperative.