How Radio Astronomy transformed our view of the universe

Explore the world of Radio Astronomy and it has helped us delve deeper into outer space more than ever.

The Radio Universe

When a charged particle like a proton or an electron accelerates by changing velocity (speed or direction), it emits to its surrounding electromagnetic wave. In the electromagnetic spectrum, there is no wave that has a greater wavelength than that of radio waves. It has also the smallest frequency, hence the lowest form of energy (greater the wavelength of radiation, lower be its energy). Any electromagnetic wave having a wavelength of more than 1mm is a radio wave. We have discussed more radio waves and how are they produced in our previous articles which you can check here. HEINRICH HERTZ REVOLUTIONiZED RADIO PHYSICS

Origin of the Radio Astronomy and How Radio waves were discovered

Radio waves were first detected from the interstellar space in the 1930s. As enhancements occurred in the antennas and electronics of radio communications post world war II, the scientists began to use radars to look into the radio signals coming from outer deep space. Scientists use different kinds of telescopes to detect different electromagnetic waves. For instance, let’s take X-rays into consideration. X-rays coming from the outer space are usually absorbed by the atmosphere of the earth and prevented by the atmosphere to reach the earth’s surface. If they reach the surface of the earth, they can cause severe damage as they are ionizing radiation. Ionizing radiation can easily penetrate our bodies and cause damage internally. As they get prevented from coming onto the surface of the earth, the telescopes for detecting X-rays are positioned in space on the orbit of the earth. You can check here how the X-rays are produced in one of our previous articles What are the X-rays and How they are Produced

Like that the telescope used for detecting radio waves from space is simply called a radio telescope.

How Radio Telescope is made

A radio telescope has three components. They are:

(i) For the collection of influx of radio waves, one or more antennas are used which are parabolic in shape so as to reflect the radio waves to a receiver.

(ii) Radio waves can be really weak sometimes. So, for their detection, the telescopes are provided with a receiver and amplifier to enhance the weak radio signal to some level so that it can be measured.

(iii) Finally, there is a recorder to have a history/record of the signal.

 For more clearance on how they are produced, you can watch and learn here

Radio Telescope

Scientific discoveries which changed the perception of Entire Scientific community regarding Radio Astronomy

Radio astronomy has changed the way scientists used to observe the universe before. With the help of radio astronomy, various types of galactic objects have been found out, such as pulsars, rapidly spinning neutron stars. In 2003, Parkes radio telescope situated in New South Wales, Australia, discovered two pulsars orbiting each other. Parkes radio telescope was one of those lucky telescopes to receive live television images of the first-ever moon landing by Apollo-11. For more information about Parkes radio telescope, check here https://www.csiro.au/en/Research/Facilities/ATNF/Parkes-radio-telescope/About-Parkes.

Hence, radio astronomy has really transformed the way of observing the outer universe. Who knows one day we will be able to answer the most mysterious question about the universe by radio telescopes, that is, is there anybody out there other than us?

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