As evidenced by five Nobel Prizes in physics, radio astronomy in its 80-year history has contributed greatly to our understanding of the universe. Yet for too long, there has been no suitable textbook on radio astronomy for undergraduate students.
Fundamentals of Radio Astronomy: Observational Methods is the first undergraduate-level textbook exclusively devoted to radio astronomy telescopes and observation methods. This book, the first of two volumes, explains the instrumentation and techniques needed to make successful observations in radio astronomy. With examples interspersed throughout and problems at the end of each chapter, it prepares students to contribute to a radio astronomy research team.
Requiring no prior knowledge of astronomy, the text begins with a review of pertinent astronomy basics. It then discusses radiation physics, the collection and detection of astronomical radio signals using radio telescopes, the functioning of various components of radio telescopes, and the processes involved in making successful radio observations. The book also provides a conceptual understanding of the fundamental principles of aperture synthesis and a more advanced undergraduate-level discussion of real-world interferometry observations.
A set of laboratory exercises is available for download on the book's CRC Press web page. These labs use the Small Radio Telescope (SRT) and the Very Small Radio Telescope (VSRT) developed for educational use by MIT's Haystack Observatory. The web page also includes a Java package that demonstrates the principles of Fourier transforms, which are needed for the analysis of interferometric data.
Jonathan M. Marr is a lecturer of physics and astronomy at Union College. His research involves high-resolution, radio-wavelength observations of radio galaxies and the Galactic center. He earned a PhD in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley. Ronald L. Snell is a professor of astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research interests include the physical and chemical properties of molecular clouds, star formation, and molecular outflows; he also has extensive experience observing at radio wavelengths. He earned a PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin. Stanley E. Kurtz is a professor of radio astronomy and astrophysics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His research interests include massive star formation, the interstellar medium, and radio astronomy instrumentation and techniques. He earned a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Introductory Material Brief History of Radio Astronomy Some Fundamentals of Radio Waves Finding Our Way in the Sky Basic Structure of a Traditional Radio Telescope Radio Maps Introduction to Radiation Physics Measures of the Amount of Radiation Blackbody Radiation Rayleigh-Jeans Approximation Brightness Temperature Coherent Radiation Interference of Light Polarization of Radiation Radio Telescopes Radio Telescope Reflectors, Antennas, and Feeds Heterodyne Receivers Noise, Noise Temperature, and Antenna Temperature Bolometer Detectors Spectrometers Very Low-Frequency Radio Astronomy Single-Dish Radio Telescope Observations Basic Measurements with a Single-Dish Telescope Antenna Beam Observing Resolved versus Unresolved Sources Spectral-Line Observations Obtaining Radio Images Calibration of a Radio Telescope Telescope Sensitivity Considerations in Planning an Observation Polarization Calibration Aperture Synthesis Basics: Two-Element Interferometers Why Aperture Synthesis? Two-Element Interferometer Observations of a Single Point Source Fringe Function Visibility Function Observations of a Pair of Unresolved Sources Observations of a Single Extended Source Coherence and the Effects of Finite Bandwidth and Integration Time Basic Principles of Interferometry Aperture Synthesis: Advanced Discussion Cross-Correlation of Received Signals Complex-Valued Cross Correlation Complex Correlation of a Point Source at a Single Frequency Extended Sources and the Fourier Transform Fourier Transforms for Some Common Source Shapes Three Dimensions, the Earth's Rotation, and the Complex Fringe Function Nonzero Bandwidth and Finite Integration Time Source Structure and the Visibility Function The Earth's Rotation and uv Tracks Interferometers as Spatial Filters Sensitivity and Detection Limits Calibration Image Formation Very Long Baseline Interferometry Appendices Questions and Problems appear at the end of each chapter.