Pages Menu
Categories Menu

Posted by on Feb 17, 2021 in TellMeWhy |

How Will You Define Radio Astronomy?

How Will You Define Radio Astronomy?

Most of us surely know how to define radio astronomy, but first let’s discuss it further for those who don’t know about the same. Radio astronomy is the method by which distant parts of the universe are examined. Radio astronomy has changed the way we view the Universe and dramatically increased our knowledge of it.

In the summer of 1930, a young radio engineer by the name of Karl Jansky developed a new technology that opened the heavens for observation far beyond what had been previously possible. With this humble beginning, radio astronomy was born. To honor his achievement, the unit of radio wave intensity from astronomical objects is called the Jansky.

Radio astronomy studies the Universe by detecting radio emission from many objects like the Sun, where energy pours out of the Sun in the form of radio waves, which can be detected over vast distances, well beyond the range of conventional optical telescopes.

This detection is done by radio telescopes, which have extracted the most distant objects yet found, the mysterious quasars (small objects which appear to be traveling close to the speed of light and which emit enormous amounts of energy).

Radio astronomy was born from radar, when it was noticed that solar flares interfered with radar reception — radio telescopes are, in fact, very similar to radar receivers and have even been used to send radar waves to Venus, to make crude maps of the planet’s invisible surface. Now We surely know how to define radio astronomy.

The largest single radio telescope in the world is built in a natural 300 m (984 ft) ‘bowl’ at Arecibo, Puerto Rico, which has the disadvantage that it cannot be steered. Better results have been obtained since the discovery that many radio telescopes all over the world can be linked electronically to work as one huge single telescope.

Content for this question contributed by Karen Watkins, resident of Ben Lomond, Santa Cruz County, California, USA