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Radio Astronomy

This webpage contains information regarding the master course on Radio Astronomy at Leiden University for the year 2016-2017. This page is subject to change during the course.


Radio astronomy has a special place in modern astrophysics. It yields an unobscured view of the structure of our own Milky Way and other galaxies. It shows us a very diverse range of both thermal and non-thermal phenomena and objects. It maps out dust and molecules forming stars and planets in dark clouds. It uniquely probes magnetic fields across interstellar and intergalactic space. It reveals the distribution of dark matter in galaxies via observations of neutral hydrogen, the most abundant element in the Universe. Finally, it provides the only way to study the very earliest epochs of the Universe, by measurements of the cosmic microwave background and by studying the large-scale distribution of neutral hydrogen during the so-called dark ages and the epoch of reionisation, when stars began to shine for the first time, and active galaxies were forming.

This course provides an introduction to the tools, techniques, and science of radio astronomy. The discussion includes: fundamentals and some history of measuring cosmic radio signals, the basic properties of antennas and receivers, practical aspects of radio interferometry (incl. calibration and imaging techniques from ALMA to VLBI to LOFAR), overview of existing facilities and next generation radio telescopes (e.g. SKA). Specific science topics include molecular radiation and masers, sub-mm galaxies at high-z, pulsars, the early Universe.

The course includes practical sessions where students get a chance to make radio images from real interferometry data under close supervision. The students will be asked to report on a specific data processing assignment. The course concludes with a field trip to ASTRON and JIVE and the LOFAR and WSRT radio telescopes located in Drenthe.

Students will learn how specific astronomical phenomena can be studied at radio wavelengths and which type of telescopes match the requirements for such observations, including quantitative assessments of sensitivity and resolution. They will be familiar with the concepts of radio astronomy techniques and acquire basic skills for dealing with interferometry data. The course will require students to consult the scientific literature and produce a concise scientific report.

Time line

The class consists of lectures and practical sessions. Unless indicated differently, lectures are on Friday between 11:15 and 13:00 in room HL414, and practical sessions (tutorials and assignments) are Friday between 13:45 and 15:30 in room HL411. The table below provides an overview. More detail is given on the schedule page. And on the assignment page we provide the guidelines for finishing the reports.

Date What (and Who*) Note
Feb 3, 2017 Lecture 1 (HvL) No practical session
Feb 10, 2017 Lecture 2 (HI) No practical session
Feb 17, 2017 Lecture 3 (HvL), Tutorial 1 (HI/JA/SM) Both lectures in HL411
Feb 24, 2017 Lecture 4 (HI), Tutorial 2 (HvL/JA/SM)
Mar 3, 2017 Lecture 5 (HvL), Tutorial 3 (HI/JA/SM)
Mar 10, 2017 Lecture 6 (HvL), Tutorial 4 (HI/JA/SM)
Mar 17, 2017 Lecture 7 (HI), Assignment 1 (HvL/HI/JA/SM)
Mar 24, 2017 Lecture 8 (HI), Assignment 2 (JA/SM)
Mar 31, 2017 Lecture 9 (HvL), Assignment 3 (JA/SM)
Apr 7, 2017 Lecture 10 (HI), Assignment 4 (JA/SM)
Apr 14, 2017 - No lecture/practical
Apr 21, 2017 Lecture 11 (GL), Tutorial 4 (JA/SM) GL = Gemma Jansen
Apr 25, 2017 Lecture 12 (GL) No practical session; 13:45 - 15:30 HL414, GL = Jeremy Harwood
Apr 28, 2017 - No lecture/practical
May 5, 2017 - No lecture/practical
May 12, 2017 Lecture 13 (GL), Assignment 5 (JA/SM) GL = Erwin de Blok
May 19, 2017 Lecture 14 (HvL), Assignment 6 (JA/SM)
May 26, 2017 - No lecture/practical
May 29, 2017 - !! ASSIGNMENT REPORTS DUE !!
Jun 1, 2017 Field trip long day, includes dinner
Jun 16, 2017 Written Exam 13:45 - 15:45 HL414

[*]: HvL = Huib van Langevelde, HI = Huib Intema, JA = Josh Albert, SM = Soumyajit (“Jit”) Mandal, GL = guest lecturer



Huib Jan van Langevelde
Prof. dr. Huib Jan van Langevelde
Professor of galactic radio astronomy at Leiden University,
Director of the Joint Institute for VLBI ERIC (JIVE)

Huib Intema
Dr. Huib Intema
Research associate at Leiden Observatory
Former research fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO)

Teaching Assistants

Joshua (Josh) Albert
MSc. Joshua Albert
PhD candidate at Leiden Observatory

Soumyajit (Jit) Mandal
MSc. Soumyajit Mandal
PhD candidate at Leiden Observatory

start.txt · Last modified: 2017/06/01 10:01 by guest1