Radio Astronomy 423/539 Syllabus: Spring 2021

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), 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 and VLA data. If possible 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: Zoom initially, later maybe PAIS 1140, M/W, 2:00pm - 3:15pm

Instructor: Greg Taylor,, PAIS 3236, home page, Office Hours: Mondays 9-11am or by appointment.

TA: Megan Lewis,, Office Hours: Tuesdays 1-2pm 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.
NVSS Postage stamp server Image cutouts from the entire sky imaged with the VLA at 1.4 GHz in D config (45 arcsec resolution, mJy sensitivity).
VLSSr Postage stamp server Image cutouts from the entire sky imaged with the VLA at 74 MHz in B config (90 arcsec resolution, 100 mJy sensitivity).
LWA home page
VLA astronomers page
VLBA astronomers page
ADS (literature search)
astro-ph preprint server

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