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  • richardmitnick 1:42 pm on August 20, 2014 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NRAO VLA,   

    From NRAO: “VLITE First Fringes” 

    NRAO Icon
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    August 20, 2014

    Namir Kassim (Naval Research Laboratory)

    The Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) and NRAO have successfully teamed to obtain first fringes on the Very Large Array (VLA) Low Frequency and Ionosphere Transient Experiment (VLITE). VLITE is a 10-antenna commensal system continuously accessing 64 MHz from the new 236-492 MHz Low Band system. Its backend includes dedicated samplers, fiber optics, and a DiFX-based software correlator. By harvesting data from the VLA’s prime focus, VLITE can provide 5000+ hours of “free” observing time a year, effectively making the VLA “two telescopes in one”. VLITE is a multi-year project commencing this fall, and could pave the road towards a full VLA Low Band Observatory, or LOBO system, in the future.

    chart

    VLITE became sentient at ~20h 30m UT on 17 July 2014, soon after the first antennas came on line in early July. The left side of the Figure shows the phase of the cross-correlation function as a function of time (vertical) and frequency (horizontal) between VLITE antennas 1 and 3, corresponding to VLA antennas 14 and 23, after the quasar 3C273 enters the field-of-view. The length of the scan is about 10 minutes, and the ~6.5 fringes seen across the 64 MHz bandwidth (λ~1 meter) correspond to a residual delay error of ~100 nsec. Since then, more antennas have been added and simple images of calibrators – including 3C273 (see Figure, right side), made from 5 antennas – are starting to emerge.

    VLITE has two main scientific drivers, and one ethereal one. The first is to provide continuous, near real-time monitoring of ionospheric waves over the VLA. VLITE is significantly more sensitive to tiny fluctuations in ionospheric total electron content than GPS, opening a new field of ionospheric remote sensing. The second scientific goal is a continuous, blind search for astronomical transients, both fast (pulsars and fast radio bursts) and slow (supernovae, gamma-ray bursts, etc.). VLITE plays to the strength of transient observations by accessing a wide field-of-view (~5 square degrees) nearly continuously. Finally, VLITE challenges the paradigm of targeted observations catering to a priori science. Its exploration-driven model seeks to reinforce the value of serendipity in a landscape increasingly dominated by perceived “transformational” science goals.

    VLITE is an NRL-funded project supported by NRAO; Namir Kassim is the PI.

    See the full article here.

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA), the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)*.

    NRAO ALMA
    NRAO ALMA

    NRAO GBT
    NRAO GBT

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO VLA

    The NRAO is building two new major research facilities in partnership with the international community that will soon open new scientific frontiers: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA). Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).
    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

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  • richardmitnick 12:59 pm on December 10, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , NRAO VLA,   

    From NRAO: “Seeing Double: New System Makes the VLA ‘Two Telescopes in One'” 

    NRAO Icon
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    December 10, 2013
    Dave Finley, Public Information Officer (575) 835-7302 dfinley@nrao.edu

    The Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array (VLA) will get a new system allowing it to continuously monitor the sky to study the Earth’s ionosphere and detect short bursts of radio emission from astronomical objects. The National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) and the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) signed a $1 million contract under which NRL will fund a system to capture data from low-frequency radio receivers mounted on VLA antennas that will allow simultaneous and completely independent operation alongside the VLA’s standard scientific observations.

    “This essentially will turn the VLA into two telescopes, working in parallel to perform different types of scientific research simultaneously,” said Dale Frail, NRAO’s Director for New Mexico Operations.

    new
    Left: A VLA receiver for the frequency range 50-500 MHz, in its enclosure. These receivers will provide the constant data flow to the VLITE system. Right: Internal view of VLA low-frequency receiver, showing circuit boards and components. CREDIT: P. Harden, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    The new system, called VLITE (VLA Ionospheric and Transient Experiment), will tap data from 10 VLA antennas, and is a pathfinder for a proposed larger system called the Low Band Observatory (LOBO) that would equip all 27 antennas of the VLA. “The new system will operate independently of the VLA’s higher-frequency systems, using a separate path for data transmission and processing,” said Paul Ray, NRL’s VLITE system engineer.

    Operating at 230-436 MHz, near radio frequencies used for UHF broadcast television, VLITE will allow scientists to constantly monitor Earth’s ionosphere, studying a number of phenomena, including disturbances that can affect signals from GPS satellites.

    “Many things can affect the ionosphere, such as geomagnetic storms, seismic events, and gravity waves generated by a variety of natural and man-made sources, including explosions and underground nuclear tests,” said NRL’s Joseph Helmboldt, VLITE ionospheric project scientist. “Having a continuous stream of data from this new VLA system can make a major contribution to our understanding of these effects,” he added.

    Astronomers will use VLITE to explore the sky for short-lived bursts of radio waves. This type of research is growing in importance, since a small number of such events have led astronomers to suspect that still-undiscovered phenomena in the Universe may be producing many such powerful bursts.

    “Without continuous monitoring, you have to get lucky to find such bursts, but this new system, operating all the time, will dramatically increase our chances,” said NRL’s Namir Kassim, VLITE principal investigator.

    Systems such as VLITE and possibly later, LOBO, operating at longer wavelengths than the microwaves currently received by VLA systems, are ideally suited to both the ionospheric research and the search for the short-lived, transient signals from cosmic objects. One promising target will be extrasolar planets with strong magnetic fields.

    “Jupiter occasionally is one of the brightest radio-emitting objects in our Solar System, due in part to its strong magnetic field,” said NRL’s Tracy Clarke, VLITE project scientist for astronomy. “Our hope is that VLITE may help us discover Jupiter-like extrasolar planets whose magnetic fields could be a prerequisite for life as a shield against deadly cosmic rays,” she added.

    “One of the biggest areas for discovery in astronomy is the transient Universe. So projects like VLITE, which let us see how the Universe changes on all sorts of timescales, are the next ‘big thing’ and a great addition to the capabilities of the VLA,” said NRAO’s Scott Ransom.

    stars
    This image, made using the VLA’s new 50-500 MHz receivers, shows numerous objects, primarily distant galaxies powered by massive black-holes. Its excellent sensitivity bodes well for VLITE’s future search for transient flashes of radio light from across the Universe. CREDIT: H. Intema, NRAO/AUI/NSF

    Under the contract, NRL will provide funding for NRAO to build and install the VLITE system.

    See the full article here.

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA), the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)*.

    NRAO ALMA
    NRAO ALMA

    NRAO GBT
    NRAO GBT

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO VLA

    The NRAO is building two new major research facilities in partnership with the international community that will soon open new scientific frontiers: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA). Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).
    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.


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  • richardmitnick 10:30 am on November 1, 2013 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , , , , NRAO VLA   

    From NASA/Chandra and the VLA: “3C353: Giant Plumes of Radiation” 

    NASA Chandra

    NRAO Icon
    National Radio Astronomy Observatory

    NRAO Banner

    The NRAO operates a complementary, state-of-the-art suite of radio telescope facilities for use by the scientific community, regardless of institutional or national affiliation: the Very Large Array (VLA), the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope (GBT), and the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA)*.

    NRAO VLA
    NRAO VLA

    The NRAO is building two new major research facilities in partnership with the international community that will soon open new scientific frontiers: the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA), and the Expanded Very Large Array (EVLA). Access to ALMA observing time by the North American astronomical community will be through the North American ALMA Science Center (NAASC).
    *The Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) comprises ten radio telescopes spanning 5,351 miles. It’s the world’s largest, sharpest, dedicated telescope array. With an eye this sharp, you could be in Los Angeles and clearly read a street sign in New York City!

    Astronomers use the continent-sized VLBA to zoom in on objects that shine brightly in radio waves, long-wavelength light that’s well below infrared on the spectrum. They observe blazars, quasars, black holes, and stars in every stage of the stellar life cycle. They plot pulsars, exoplanets, and masers, and track asteroids and planets.

    plume
    Image Credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/Tokyo Institute of Technology/J.Kataoka et al, Radio: NRAO/VLA

    Jets generated by supermassive black holes at the centers of galaxies can transport huge amounts of energy across great distances. 3C353 is a wide, double-lobed source where the galaxy is the tiny point in the center and giant plumes of radiation can be seen in X-rays from Chandra (purple) and radio data from the Very Large Array (orange).

    See the full article here.

    Chandra X-ray Center, Operated for NASA by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
    Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory


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