A technological breakthrough for radio astronomy – Astronomical observations via high-speed data link

To carry out simultaneuos observations with several telescopes and transform the combined data into pictures from distant galaxies has so far been a cumbersome procedure which often has taken a long time.

Now a breakthrough has been achieved by way of the installation of optical fibre links between the observatories and the universities who have access to the national and international research networks.

On Thursday 15 January 2004, the first e-VLBI experiment took place between Onsala Space Observatory and radio telescopes in Westerbork, Holland, and Cambridge, England. Data from all three telescopes were sent via gigabit networks to the correlator in Holland (Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe, JIVE), and already the next day an image
was produced of the distant galactic nucleus one had observed. The participants in the experiment agree that this technical development will revolutionize the whole research area.

Thanks to the new optical fibre link between Onsala and Chalmers, which was installed at the end of 2003, Onsala Space Observatory is one of the first observatories in Europe to be able to participate in this kind of observations.

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