Radio Astronomy 423/539 Syllabus: Spring 2017


Course Description and Goals:
In this class we will learn about the basic components of radio telescopes and how they work in practice to explore our universe. We will study the emission mechanisms that produce radio waves, and what we have learned about astrophysical objects through radio studies. We will also explore the concepts of synthesis imaging which make use of many small telescopes to synthesise a single, much larger aperture. As an integral part of the class we will carry out observations of cosmic radio sources using the Very Large Array (VLA), the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA), both operated out of Socorro, NM, and the Long Wavelength Array (LWA) operated by UNM. Each student, working as part of a team, will learn how to calibrate, image, and analyze LWA, VLA and VLBA data. We will take a 1-day field trip to the VLA/LWA.

Course Texts:
RW: Rohlfs & Wilson (chapter sections will be indicated; pages if necessary).
SI:Synthesis Imaging in Radio Astronomy II by Taylor, Carilli & Perley (electronic version available for individual chapters assigned below, or you can peruse the book (45 MB).)

Class time and location: P&A 184, M/W, 2:00pm - 3:15pm

Instructor: Greg Taylor, gbtaylor@unm.edu, P&A 180, 277-5238, home page, Office Hours: Mondays 9-11am or by appointment.

Homework: There will be several homework assignments, each due at the beginning of class one week from the time it is assigned unless otherwise specified.

Grades: Grades will be based on two midterm exams (40%), the homework sets (25%), the written presentations of the projects (25%) and the oral presentations of the projects (10%). There will be no final exam.

Useful Links: Greg Taylor's home page
NASA Extragalactic Database: Useful Information about sources of interest.
LWA home page
VLA astronomers page
VLBA astronomers page
ADS (literature search)
astro-ph preprint server

Schedule of Topics
Date Topic Reading Homework
18 Jan (W) Introduction to Radio Astronomy and this course RW (1.1)  
23 Jan (M) Survey of Radio Science RW (1.2) HW 1 assigned
25 Jan (W) Power, Radiative transfer RW (1.3-1.4)  
30 Jan (M) Blackbody radiation, noise RW (1.5-1.6) HW 2 assigned
1 Feb (W) VLBA Schedule Due 4 hours any GST  
1 Feb (W) Wave equation, polarization and propogation RW (3.1-3.2, 3.5)  
6 Feb (M) signal processing and receivers RW (4) 48-70, 76-80, 95-109 HW 3 assigned
8 Feb (W) Single Dish telescopes SI (3)  
13 Feb (M) Interferometry and Synthesis Imaging SI (2) HW 4 assigned
15 Feb (W) Fourier transforms    
20 Feb (M) Interferometry continued SI (2)  
22 Feb (W) Interferometry, Correlators SI (6), SI (7) HW 5 assigned
27 Feb (M) Midterm number 1  
1 Mar (W) Calibration SI (5), AIPStutorial.pdf   Project assigned
6 Mar (M) Polarization in Interferometry SI (5), AIPStutorial.pdf HW 6 on VLA Calibration
8 Mar (W) Imaging SI (10), SI (16)  
Week of 12 March SPRING BREAK - NO CLASS  
20 Mar (M) Imaging tutorial SI (10), SI (16)  
22 Mar (W) Self-calibration SI (10), SI (16) HW 7 on VLBA imaging
27 Mar (M) Spectral Lines RW (11, 12) SI (22)  
29 Mar (W) Polarimetry SI (5) SI (22)  
3 Apr (M) Very Long Baseline Interferometry, Geodesy RW (10.7) HW 8 on VLBA imaging
5 Apr (W) Synchrotron Emission and Magnetic fields RW (9.1-9.5, 9.7-9.12) Project Outline Due
10 Apr (M) Brehmsstralung RW (10.1-10.5) HW 9 assigned
12 Apr (W) Thermal radio sources RW (10.1-10.5)  
17 Apr (M) Non-Thermal radio sources   HW 9 due
19 Apr (W) Long Wavelength Interferometry and Science    
24 Apr (M) Midterm number 2    
26 Apr (W) Future Instruments    
1 May (M) Team 3 presentations    
3 May (W) Team 1 and Team 2 presentations    
10 May (W) Written Reports Due