Tag Archives: Radio Astronomy

Radio astronomers track the source of fast radio bursts

PARI-East-26M-Antenna(Source: BBC)

For the first time, scientists have tracked the source of a “fast radio burst” – a fleeting explosion of radio waves which, in this case, came from a galaxy six billion light-years away.

The cause of the big flash, only the seventeenth ever detected, remains a puzzle, but spotting a host galaxy is a key moment in the study of such bursts.

It also allowed the team to measure how much matter got in the way of the waves and thus to “weigh the Universe”.

Their findings are published in Nature.

Continue reading on the BBC website…

Being a fan of radio astronomy, I find this sort of news fascinating.

Six billion light-years…that’s some serious DX!

Intergalactic DX: Detecting gravitational waves

NASA illustration of LISA--spacecraft that will form an extremely large antenna system for detecting gravitational waves.

NASA illustration of LISA–spacecraft that will form an extremely large antenna array for detecting gravitational waves.

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Dan H, who writes:

The biggest news during the last week is not the Republican or Democratic national party debates, the surrender of the last Militia Man at Malheur National Wildlife Reserve in Oregon or falling stock prices for Tesla. The biggest story of the week involves some lasers enclosed in huge vacuum tubes.

The recent proof for gravity waves is something that should have a lot of appeal to readers of SWLing Post. This story involves very weak waves originating billions of years ago, measuring distances with lasers and old-style vacuum tube tech (albeit four 2.4 mile-long tubes located 1,900 miles apart). It sounds like DXing to me and DXing is interesting. But, this story describes changes in spacetime and that is really significant.

I get it, at least on a layman basis. I think that many SWLing Post readers would get it too.

This link to an older article is the best that I can provide to describe it all. The recent discoveries involved LIGO sites in Hanford, Washington and Livingston Parish, Louisiana.

http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2013/05/ligo_captures_gravitational_wa.html

I heard over 90 minutes of programming on this subject during the last seven hours from BBC. I heard it locally on SW in northern California at 7445 and 9740 kHz. The programs were featured on the Newsday and Science Day BBC programs. Yes, I was listening to two different BBC relays from different parts of the world on my apparently outdated and uncool Sangean ATS-909X.

You’re right, Dan! I had planned to post an item about this, but have been been a bit behind due to travels. I believe you can’t find any weaker DX than gravitational waves from distant colliding black holes! It’s a fascinating idea, too, to use a laser antenna to detect these waves across space/time.

I also enjoyed this article and video from the New York Times.

Oh, and regarding your Sangean ATS-909X? I think it’s one of the coolest looking portables on the market! Glad to hear it’s serving you well.

Thanks for sharing, Dan!

Video: Shortwave listening and radio astronomy

Sony-ICF-SW100

On Thursday I attended an event at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI)–location of the 2015 SWLing Post DXPedition.

During a break, I had a couple of free hours, so I reached in my messenger bag and pulled out the Sony ICF-SW100: a radio that has quickly surpassed all others as my favorite EDC (everyday carry) radio. It has so many useful features in such a small package!

Radio astronomy observatories are ideal locations for impromptu shortwave radio listening as there is little to no radio interference/noise present.

PARI-26E-and-26W

PARI’s “Building 1” and the 26 West (left) and 26 East (right) radio telescopes.

While the weather on Thursday was gorgeous, HF band conditions were…well…miserable. There was very little to hear other than China Radio International, Radio Havana Cuba and a few other blow torch broadcasters.

Still, time signal station WWV was on my mind since I had just purchased Myke’s new edition of At The Tone and have been reading your excellent comments with early memories of listening to WWV and WWVH.

I tuned to 15 MHz and, of course, there was reliable WWV in Fort Collins, Colorado on frequency. Though WWV’s signal was relatively strong (despite the conditions) I turned on the SW100’s sync detector because fading (QSB) was pronounced at times.

Here’s a short video of the ICF-SW100 on a picnic table in the middle of the PARI campus. That’s PARI’s 26 (meter) West telescope in the background:

National Radio Quiet Zone featured in BBC Radio 4 series

GreenBankTelescope

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, David Freeborough, who shares this brilliant, in-depth radio documentary featured on the BBC News and BBC Radio 4.

This BBC News Magazine article introduces the documentary:

“Anyone driving west from Washington DC towards the Allegheny Mountains will arrive before long in a vast area without mobile phone signals. This is the National Radio Quiet Zone – 13,000 square miles (34,000 sq km) of radio silence. What is it for and how long will it survive?

As we drive into the Allegheny Mountains the car radio fades to static. I glance at my mobile phone but the signal has disappeared.

Ahead of us a dazzling white saucer looms above the wooded terrain of West Virginia, getting bigger and bigger with every mile. It’s the planet’s largest land-based movable object – the Robert C Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT) – 2.3 acres in surface area, and taller than the Statue of Liberty.

But it needs electrical peace and quiet to do its job.”

[Continue reading…]

The story continues on the BBC News site, but I would encourage you to listen to the five part radio documentary series on BBC Radio 4 first. Green Bank, WV, is certainly one part of the planet where a shortwave radio listener would be quite happy: residents have virtually no radio interference or obnoxious electrical noises that plague the rest of the modern world.

telescopes-1911The radio documentary can be streamed on the Radio 4 website.  I’ve included links to each episode below. As far as I can tell, there are no expiration dates on the Radio 4 streams:

My wife and I have camped near the NROA site in Green Bank–it’s a beautiful part of the world. I’m certainly long overdue to return!

Again, David, many thanks for sharing this!

Living in a National Radio Quiet Zone

The Green Bank Telescope: An impressive parabolic dish covering 2.3 acres, the GBT has the largest collecting area of any fully-steerable telescope in the world. (Photo: R. Creager, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

The Green Bank Telescope: An impressive parabolic dish covering 2.3 acres, the GBT has the largest collecting area of any fully-steerable telescope in the world. (Photo: R. Creager, NRAO/AUI/NSF)

Many thanks to SWLing Post reader, Paul, who shares this National Geographic video about Green Bank, West Virginia, USA–home of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO):

My wife and I took a camping trip to Green Bank in the late 1990s when the massive Green Bank Telescope was about 80% complete. The NRAO site is inspiring and you (of course) will find no better place on the east coast for RF quiet conditions.

The staff at the NRAO give daily tours throughout the year–click here to view the schedule and costs.

I’m overdue for another visit.