Radio Astronomy at 55 MHZ

A medium size antenna array operating at 55 MHz is presently being used at the Buckland Park field site (40 km North of Adelaide) as part of an atmospheric wind profiling radar.

This project will test the feasibility of using a radar north of Adelaide to perform Radio Astronomy observations.

The Buckland Park stratosphere-troposphere (BPST) VHF radar is located 40 km North of Adelaide. The radar is typically used to measure stratosphere-troposphere winds and observe meteors in the upper atmosphere. By running this radar in a purely receptive mode, it effectively becomes a VHF radio telescope.

The BPST radar operates at 55 MHz, which is below the lower limit (70 MHz) of the Murchison Widefield array in Western Australia, the precursor to the Square Kilometre Array (SKA). The radar therefore provides the ability to perform Radio Astronomy at frequencies not currently used by the Australian Radio Astronomy community.

Sources to study might include the galactic centre, Jupiter and the Sun, aiming to detect any changes at varying time scales. It is also anticipated and hoped that these passive measurements could also be used to help calibrate the actual beam pattern of the radar array by observing astronomical radio sources as they move across the field of view of the array. Thus, this project can explore the potential to monitor astrophysical sources.

Students will gain experience in radio interferometry techniques which underpin major astronomy programmes in Australia such as the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

Tagged in Honours projects - Physics, Honours Projects - Andrew MacKinnon, Honours Projects - David Holdsworth, Honours Projects - Gavin Rowell, Honours in Physics subtheme - Space and atmospheric