As evidenced by five Nobel Prizes in physics, radio astronomy in its 80-year history has contributed greatly to our understanding of the universe. Yet for too long, there has been no suitable textbook on radio astronomy for undergraduate students.
Fundamentals of Radio Astronomy: Observational Methods is the first undergraduate-level textbook exclusively devoted to radio astronomy telescopes and observation methods. This book, the first of two volumes, explains the instrumentation and techniques needed to make successful observations in radio astronomy. With examples interspersed throughout and problems at the end of each chapter, it prepares students to contribute to a radio astronomy research team.
Requiring no prior knowledge of astronomy, the text begins with a review of pertinent astronomy basics. It then discusses radiation physics, the collection and detection of astronomical radio signals using radio telescopes, the functioning of various components of radio telescopes, and the processes involved in making successful radio observations. The book also provides a conceptual understanding of the fundamental principles of aperture synthesis and a more advanced undergraduate-level discussion of real-world interferometry observations.
A set of laboratory exercises is available for download on the book’s CRC Press web page. These labs use the Small Radio Telescope (SRT) and the Very Small Radio Telescope (VSRT) developed for educational use by MIT’s Haystack Observatory. The web page also includes a Java package that demonstrates the principles of Fourier transforms, which are needed for the analysis of interferometric data.
Table of Contents
Introductory Material. Introduction to Radiation Physics. Radio Telescopes. Single-Dish Radio Telescope Observations. Aperture Synthesis Basics: Two-Element Interferometers. Aperture Synthesis: Advanced Discussion. Appendices.
Jonathan M. Marr is a senior lecturer of physics and astronomy at Union College. His research involves high-resolution, radio-wavelength observations of radio galaxies and the Galactic center. He earned a PhD in astronomy from the University of California, Berkeley.
Ronald L. Snell is a professor of astronomy at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. His research interests include the physical and chemical properties of molecular clouds, star formation, and molecular outflows; he also has extensive experience observing at radio wavelengths. He earned a PhD in astronomy from the University of Texas at Austin.
Stanley E. Kurtz is a professor of radio astronomy and astrophysics at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. His research interests include massive star formation, the interstellar medium, and radio astronomy instrumentation and techniques. He earned a PhD in physics from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
"This is an excellent introduction for students wanting to get into the exciting world of radio astronomy. It starts at the basics and builds up nicely to provide readers with the understanding they will need for both single dish observing and radio interferometry. The separation of the more mathematically challenging aspects means that it can be used at a variety of levels, including for advanced undergraduate or postgraduate students. Given the wealth of radio research facilities, such as the JVLA, ALMA, and the upcoming SKA, this is also a very timely textbook. I will start using it immediately in my training programs."
—Melvin Hoare, Professor of Astrophysics, University of Leeds
"Since the detection of HI at 21 cm wavelength and the discovery of CO in dark clouds, radio astronomy has been a central tool in studies of the interstellar medium and star forming clouds. This has been even more true with the advent of cm and mm interferometers, and the more recent availability of the EVLA and ALMA has transformed the study of circumstellar disks and of outflows. This two-volume set of introductory textbooks provide the essential foundation for students who plan to use radio observations in the study of molecular clouds, HII regions, and star formation. While one volume focuses on the instrumentation, telescopes, and observing methods of radio astronomy, the other deals with the astrophysical processes that give rise to radio emission. All three authors have taught radio astronomy courses, and the books are organized with questions and problems after each chapter. The books are also equipped with extensive appendices with supporting material that focus on background and technical information."
— The Star Formation Newsletter No 323, November 2019