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Radio Astronomy

Radio waves cover the low-energy range of the electromagnetic spectrum. The wavelength of this radiation is approximately between one millimeter and 10 meters. Since the earth's atmosphere is transparent to radio waves, direct measurement on earth is possible. In most cases, this is done with large radio dishes or antennas. These detectors can measure individually or be connected together as interferometers to achieve very high resolutions.

Unlike gamma and neutrino astronomy, radio astronomy can study the morphology of extra-galactic sources. Observations with the VLBA or LOFAR provide high-resolution images of cosmic accelerators such as active galactic nuclei. Combining information from the entire electromagnetic spectrum in so-called multi-wavelength analyses helps to understand their emission and acceleration processes.

Radio emission of 3C84 © Lena Linhoff ​/​ TU Dortmund
The radio galaxy 3C84 observed with the Very Long Baseline Array (VLBA) in 2016, with data from the VLBA-BU Blazar Monitoring Program.

The use of meter wavelengths for astrophysical research offers unprecedented insights into many astrophysical processes studied within the GLOW-consortium.

With the new generation of radio interferometers - such asLOFAR and SKA - the research area of large data sets is becoming increasingly important for radio astronomy. Analysis of all observations in reasonable time requires new analysis techniques. In collaboration with computer science within SFB876, we are developing solutions in the area of machine learning.

Another project is the automation of radio telescopes, where the robotization of the prototype antenna MPG-SKA is a signpost. A central aspect for the realization of automated observations is the data mining of sensor metadata.

Topics covered in Dortmund include:

  • Jet kinematic analysis
  • Analysis of LOFAR observations
  • Robotization of the MPG-SKA prototype antenna
  • Analysis procedure for SKA observations

Location & approach

The campus of the Technical University of Dortmund is located near the freeway junction Dortmund West, where the Sauerland line A45 crosses the Ruhr expressway B1/A40. The Dortmund-Eichlinghofen exit on the A45 leads to the South Campus, the Dortmund-Dorstfeld exit on the A40 leads to the North Campus. The university is signposted at both exits.

The "Dortmund Universität" S-Bahn station is located directly on the North Campus. From there, the S-Bahn line S1 runs every 20 or 30 minutes to Dortmund main station and in the opposite direction to Düsseldorf main station via Bochum, Essen and Duisburg. In addition, the university can be reached by bus lines 445, 447 and 462. Timetable information can be found on the homepage of the Rhine-Ruhr transport association, and DSW21 also offer an interactive route network map.

One of the landmarks of the TU Dortmund is the H-Bahn. Line 1 runs every 10 minutes between Dortmund Eichlinghofen and the Technology Center via Campus South and Dortmund University S, while Line 2 commutes every 5 minutes between Campus North and Campus South. It covers this distance in two minutes.