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Graduate courses

Departments' graduate courses for PhD-students.


Syllabus for

Academic year
RRY131 - Radioastronomical techniques and interferometry
Syllabus adopted 2016-02-13 by Head of Programme (or corresponding)
Owner: MPPAS
7,5 Credits
Grading: TH - Five, Four, Three, Fail
Education cycle: Second-cycle
Major subject: Electrical Engineering, Engineering Physics

Teaching language: English
Open for exchange students
Block schedule: B+

Course module   Credit distribution   Examination dates
Sp1 Sp2 Sp3 Sp4 Summer course No Sp
0113 Project 3,0c Grading: UG   3,0c    
0213 Examination 4,5c Grading: TH   4,5c   12 Jan 2018 pm SB,  04 Apr 2018 am M,  28 Aug 2018 am M

In programs

MPPAS PHYSICS AND ASTRONOMY, MSC PROGR, Year 1 (compulsory elective)


Bitr professor  Cathy Horellou


RRY130   Radioastronomical techniques and interferometry


In order to be eligible for a second cycle course the applicant needs to fulfil the general and specific entry requirements of the programme that owns the course. (If the second cycle course is owned by a first cycle programme, second cycle entry requirements apply.)
Exemption from the eligibility requirement: Applicants enrolled in a programme at Chalmers where the course is included in the study programme are exempted from fulfilling these requirements.

Course specific prerequisites

Basic knowledge in electromagnetism.


The aim of the course is that students to understand radio astronomy techniques and the astrophysical goals motivating radio astronomy measurements. The course shall enable the students to plan an astronomical experiment using either single dish or interferometry, and to determine the required integration time, choice of instrument etc. The course will explain how to go from raw radio astronomy data to final images/spectra. The level of understanding should be such that the students in their profession as engineers or scientists should be able to apply radioastronomical techniques.

Learning outcomes (after completion of the course the student should be able to)

* Become aware of the role played by radio astronomy in the study of the Universe. 
* Know about the most important radio astronomical instruments (e.g. ALMA, VLA, SKA, LOFAR, VLBI) and their science drivers. 
* Be able to describe which physical quantities can be measured by radio telescopes. 
* Understand the mechanisms of continuum and spectral line radiation and the nature of the astrophysical sources (from star-forming regions to supermassive black holes). 
* From the spectral energy distribution of a typical source (star, active galaxy, etc), be able to determine in which frequency ranges it can be observed by different telescopes. 
* Calculate required angular resolution for a given science need (is an interferometer needed?) 
* Be able to describe and perform simple calculations involving fundamentals of positional astronomy. 
* Be able to describe the basic operation of a radio telescope and its instrumentation. 
* Know the main single-dish observational techniques (e.g. frequency - beam - position switching, polarization measurements, fast scanning). 
* Estimate required integration time for a given observation (the radiometer equation).
* Plan, carry out and analyze a single-dish astronomical observation. 
* Know the main limitations and strengths of interferometric observations. 
* Understand concepts of point source and surface brightness sensitivity. 
* Learn the mathematical tools needed to understand interferometry (signal cross-correlation, 2D Fourier transform, 2D convolution). 
* Visualise a simple two-element interferometer and the output response of a point source. 
* Understand the process of image reconstruction from interferometric observations (in particular, the CLEAN algorithm). 
* Learn the basics of data calibration (amplitude and phase) in interferometry. 
* Be able to reduce simple interferometric data: from the raw data to the final images. 


The course contains the following parts: 

* Single-dish radio astronomy. 
* Fundamental concepts. 
* Basic antenna theory. 
* Receiver and signal processing. 
* Observational methods. 
* Radio astronomical sources. 
* Spectral line analysis. 
* Planning a single-dish observation. 
* Observing with the Onsala 20m telescope. 
* Single-dish data analysis. 
* The 2-element non-tracking interferometer. 
* The tracking interferometer. 
* The 2D Fourier transform. 
* 'uv' coverage for example interferometers. 
* The dirty map and dirty beam. 
* Noise in interferometry images. 
* Properties of the main radio interferometers where one can apply for observing time. 
* Planning an observation with a radio interferometer. 
* Deconvolution methods. 
* Phase errors and their recovery using closure phase and self-calbration. 
* Interferometric data reduction. 
* Spectral line interferometry. 
* Applications of the interferometry technique in other disciplines (i.e. geodetic VLBI). 
* Design of aperture arrays.


Lectures, problem classes, practical observations, and computer exercises.


Lecture notes and Tools of Radio Astronomy by K. Rohlfs and T.L. Wilson, Springer Verlag, last edition (available as an e-book from the Chalmers library).


(1) Written exam. 60% of the final grade. 
(2) Written report about the observations with a radio telescope (group work), hand-in assignments and oral presentation of a scientific paper.  40% of the final grade. 

Page manager Published: Thu 04 Feb 2021.