UK radio astronomers at the Jodrell Bank Observatory, working with colleagues from Europe and the USA, have demonstrated a new technique that will revolutionise the way they observe. To create the very best quality images of the sky, they routinely combine data from multiple telescopes from around the world - a technique called Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI). They have now combined this with the power of dedicated internet resources to send data from all the telescopes to a special computer, to combine the observations in real-time (e-VLBI).
In conventional interferometry, far from the traditional image of an astronomer peering through an eyepiece, radio astronomers have to wait weeks or even months to see the results of their work as data tapes are shipped around the world to be combined at a central processing facility.
Prof Phil Diamond, of Jodrell Bank Observatory explains “Previously, we’ve been working in the dark, collecting data that we can’t see in its entirety until painfully long weeks later. Now using e-VLBI, we have removed that blindfold; we can process the observations taken at a number of locations around the world at once, in real time. In future, this technique will allow us to take much better images than previously possible, revealing in much greater detail the Universe around us.”
Julia Maddock | alfa
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