Astrophysics at Jodrell Bank: the Radio Universe

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Physics and Astronomy

Abstract

The Universe is a state of continuous evolution. This started with the Big Bang, and the small irregularities which later grew into clusters, galaxies, and stars. Large black holes formed at the centre of the galaxies. Infall of gas into the central black holes leads to highly energetic jets. Stars interact with their surroundings through winds, and for massive stars, through explosions at the end of their lives. The ejecta enrich the galaxies with new elements, molecules and dust.

The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics studies the various phases of evolution especially through radio emission. Radio emission traces ionized plasmas which are found in high energy environments, The irregularities of the Big Bang are studied through the cosmic microwave radio emission. Galaxies emit radio emission and these are used to trace their evolution, from formation to star bursts. The cores of massive stars, left after their supernova explosions, emit radio pulses. The radio emissions are detected using a variety of telescopes. The Planck Space Telescope observes the cosmic microwave background. The Lovell Telescope detects the emission from pulsars. The e-Merlin array resolves the emission from individual galaxies.

The research is supported by an active technology program. We develop cyogenically cooled amplifiers, and low noise detectors at high and low frequencies, both for space telescopes and ground-based.

Much of our research is based on wide area surveys. In addition to radio surveys, we also make use of high resolution optical surveys. Gravity is an important focus for our research. The bending of light and radio waves can be used to detect material otherwise invisible. We use this to detect planets in the outer regions of the stellar systems. Gravitational waves can be detected through the long-term monitoring of pulsars.

The research in this grant covers cosmology, from the origin of large-scale structure in the Universe to the formation of cluster of galaxies, Pulsars, both as objects in their own right and as tracers of gravity, Dust and molecules in the interstellar medium, and finally a vigorous program of development of radio technology.

The future of radio astronomy is the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), in which the UK has a leading role. The research of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics is directed towards the SKA. Over the next three years, we will continue our study of the radio Universe at all scales. The SKA will bring this to fruition, and provide a unique tracer of the continuing evolution of the Universe.

Planned Impact

Outreach

The Manchester group is a world-leader in public engagement. Outreach is
recognised as a core activity, to which considerable resources are devoted and
postgraduate students and early-career researchers encouraged to take part.
This builds on the public recognition of Jodrell Bank as a centre for UK
astronomy in general. The incredibly successful BBC2 ``Stargazing Live''
broadcast from the Control Building at Jodrell Bank, attracted around 10
million viewers over three nights. It showcased a wide range of UK astronomy
and space activity. This programme will have a lasting legacy in bringing young
people into scientific and technological careers.

During the International Year of Astronomy in 2009 JBCA staff ran a project in
which schools across the UK mapped the radio sky using a remotely operated 7-m
telescope at JBO; this culminated in a special webcast event in the Royal
Institution. In 2010, we organised a two-day outreach event in Cumbria to run
alongside an international research conference. Around 1500 Cumbrian pupils,
aged 6-17, from schools across the north of Cumbria travelled to Keswick
School where they took part in a series of talks, hands-on workshops and
planetarium shows. Our Jodcast (see http://www.jodcast.net/) is a
twice-monthly podcast covering all areas of astronomy and space science. It
has over 3,000 regular listeners.

A significant part of the outreach programme centres around the work at the
JBO site and the iconic Lovell Telescope. A new Discovery Centre opened in
April 2011, and is expected to attract 125,000 visitors per annum, including
an estimated 10,000 school students. Some of the exhibits highlight our
STFC-funded research. The award of a £100k STFC grant for Public Engagement to
JBCA provided the business plan for the Discovery Centre, and lead to the
award of £2.9M of regional funding from the Northwest Development Agency and
the Northwest European Regional Development Fund, towards the construction.
The Diovery Centre will generate £26M of regional economic benefit over the
next decade. The UK-Manchester case to site the SPO at Jodrell Bank nvolved
the synergy between the outreach programme of the SKA and that of JBCA and the
Discovery Centre.


Knowledge Exchange

Since the radio band is much used for commercial, civil and military
applications we are well-placed to work with a variety of companies and to
exchange researchers. eMERLIN and SKA have brought the Manchester group into
close contact with industry. e-Merlin requires very high data rates; the
eMERLIN fibre links use in-house designed equipment using our own
protocols. JBCA has also developed innovative high speed applications using
light-paths across academic networks initially through STFC & EPSRC co-funded
research and in collaboration with other groups including BT. Later
developments were funded by the EC.

Manchester, working through the Electronics KTN, has build relationships with
companies which may bid for supply to the SKA construction. Approximately 20
companies contributed letters of support for the successful UK SKA Project
Office bid.

The SKA programme has already resulted in a new collaboration with Selex-Galileo
airborne radar systems group in Edinburgh (SG-E). They are interested to
evolve their radar technology into a PAFs suitable for future large radio
telescope projects such as SKA. Together we have selected the Lovell
Telescope as the first target for a collaborative study with mutual benefits.

Other examples of industrial interests are Agilent, Rayth, and QinetiQ. A
Royal Society Industry Fellow, Dr. Neil Salmon (QinetiQ), is working with us
to develop the next generation of passive mm-wave imagers with digital
beam-forming techniques for a range of non-astronomical applications from
security screening to earth observation from space.

Publications


10 25 50
Abdo A (2013) THE SECOND FERMI LARGE AREA TELESCOPE CATALOG OF GAMMA-RAY PULSARS in The Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series
Ainsworth R (2013) Subarcsecond high-sensitivity measurements of the DG Tau jet with e-MERLIN in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters
Alves M (2012) A derivation of the free-free emission on the Galactic plane between l= 20° and 44° in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Andersson N (2012) Pulsar glitches: the crust is not enough. in Physical review letters
André P (2014) PRISM (Polarized Radiation Imaging and Spectroscopy Mission): an extended white paper in Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Antoniadis J (2012) The relativistic pulsar-white dwarf binary PSR J1738+0333 - I. Mass determination and evolutionary history in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
 
Description The Universe is a state of continuous evolution. This started with the Big Bang, and the small irregularities which later grew into clusters, galaxies, and stars. Large black holes formed at the centre of the galaxies. Infall of gas into th
e central black holes leads to highly energetic jets. Stars interact with their surroundings through winds, and for massive stars, through explosions at the end of their lives. The ejecta enrich the galaxies with new elements, molecules and dust.

The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics studies the various phases of evolution especially through radio emission. Radio emission traces ionized plasmas which are found in high energy environments, The irregularities of the Big Bang are studied through the cosmic microwave radio emission. Galaxies emit radio emission and these are used to trace their evolution, from formation to star bursts. The cores of massive stars, left after their supernova explosions, emit radio pulses. The radio emissions are detected using a variety of telescopes. The Planck Space Telescope observes the cosmic microwave background. The Lovell Telescope detects the emission from pulsars. The e-Merlin array resolves the emission from individual galaxies.

The research is supported by an active technology program. We develop cyogenically cooled amplifiers, and low noise detectors at high and low frequencies, both for space telescopes and ground-based.

Much of our research is based on wide area surveys. In addition to radio surveys, we also make use of high resolution optical surveys. Gravity is an important focus for our research. The bending of light and radio waves can be
used to detect material otherwise invisible. We use this to detect planets in the outer regions of the stellar systems. Gravitational waves can be detected through the long-term monitoring of pulsars.

The research in this grant covers cosmology, from the origin of large-scale structure in the Universe to the formation of cluster of galaxies, Pulsars, both as objects in their own right and as tracers of gravity, Dust and molecules in the
interstellar medium, and finally a vigorous program of development of radio technology.

The future of radio astronomy is the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), in which the UK has a leading role. The research of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics is directed towards the SKA. Over the next three years, we will continue our study of the radio Universe at all scales. The SKA will bring this to fruition, and provide a unique tracer of the continuing evolution of the Universe.
Exploitation Route The research has led to a new award of a consolidated grant by STFC. National and international collaborators also continue to work on this research.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics
 
Description JBCA has one of the most wide-ranging and publicly visible outreach programs in astronomy within the UK. We have dedicated resources,including a recording room at JBCA, and a dedicated Discovery Centre at Jodrell Bank, to support a large range of activities. We maintain a high public profile through our contacts with local and national television, radio and newspapers, all of which help to maintain a strong public interest in astronomy. The outreach included regular events at Jodrell Bank, organized in connection with the Visitor Centre. The BBC starsgzaing live events attract 10 million viewers each year. The outreach team also organizes school events and teacher training. An example of our approach is provided by the Asymmetric Planetary Nebula (APN5) conference, organized by academics on this grant. Directly related to this conference, and involving people and materials from the APN5 conference, we organized a two-day programme of activities at nearby Keswick High School (a specialist science school). The activities aimed at all key stages at Keswick and included sessions for local primary school children. Activities included telescope building, operating a transportable radio telescope, a demonstration of a Mars rover, the JB inflatable planetarium, and presentations by Science Made Simple. This event reached more than 2000 children in an economically challenged region of the UK. Such activities provide strong support to STEM education, by generating interest by the children in these topics and encouraging them to continue in higher education. Extensive use is made of the internet in the JBCA outreach. Our extensive website attracts over 160,000 external visits each month. We are part of The Children's University of Manchester where we run the 'Earth and Beyond' http://www.childrensuniversity.manchester.ac.uk/interactives/science/earthandbeyond, with a range of hands-on activities. The Jodcast http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/jodcast/ is a twice-monthly podcast, including the latest news, what is in the sky this month, interviews with guest astronomers, a mini-drama, etc. A HD video feed is included. It is among the top astronomy podcasts in the world with over 3000 regular listeners per podcast, and was started and is run by postdocs and students, with help from staff. It regularly interviews senior visitors to the Galactic research group. The Jodcast was supported through an STFC grant. Our Twitter feeds http://www.jodrellbank.manchester.ac.uk/feeds/twitter had over 100000 followers. Other events include sidewalk astronomy, where we take telescopes into the city centre, and cultural events at Jodrell Bank. Our strength as innovators has resulted in an STFC Large Award to develop 'festival'-style summer events beginning with the 50th anniversary of the Lovell Telescope and including coordinating Space 50 on behalf of the BNSC. The new Discovery Centre at Jodrell Bank, funded by the University and te NW development agency, is attracting 120\,000 visitors per year. It is world-leading in outreach, with innovative events aimed at hard-to-reach audiences. It works close together with other organizations such as STFC. The leaders were awarded the Kelvin Medal of the IoP for their work. JBCA is at the forefront of developing technology and techniques related to THz technology, data transfer and optical fibres. An industry exchange fellow (Neil Salmon) from Qinetiq worked with the THz instrumentation group, on identifying research likely to have commercial applications. The technical component in the current grant is related to ARTEMIS, where we have been asked to supply THz quasi-optical components (including spectral filters and dichroics). This technology is still in development: potential application are in the security and medical sectors, through THz cameras for security systems medical imagery. Our reseach has required development of high-speed internet connections far above standard rates. We have developed applications using lightpaths across academic networks; a technique using non-IP, point-to-point connections and allowing much higher connection speeds. This was done through STFC/EPSRC co-funded research, in collaboration with other groups including the medical profession, where there are potential future applications. Our SKA work led to the SKA organization being located at Jodrell Bank. This have already created 60 high quality jobs in Cheshire East, and had widespread political support.
First Year Of Impact 2008
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Electronics
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic
 
Title Low noise amplifiers 
Description Development of receivers for radio frequencies from 1.4GHz to 45GHz, used in radio telescopes, in particular the e-Merlin National Facility 
Type Of Material Improvements to research infrastructure 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact e-Merlin C-band and L-band receivers have been available to the community since 2011. The call for proposals to use them has been oversubscribed by a factor of more than 2.5 for each of three calls so far. Over 50 observing programs have been carried out for applicants from UK universities and several other countries. 
URL http://www.merlin.ac.uk/
 
Title Glitch Database 
Description Public database of pulsar glitches. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2011 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The original paper first describing the database has 134 citations, as of March 2016. 
URL http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/pulsar/glitches/gTable.html
 
Description Michael Kramer 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
Country Germany, Federal Republic of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Secondment of Michael Kramer as director of the institute.
Collaborator Contribution Salary
Impact RAS Herschel medal
Start Year 2008
 
Description Neil Salmon 
Organisation Qinetic
Country Global 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research facilities
Collaborator Contribution Secondment Neil Salmon to the University of Manchester
Impact N/A
Start Year 2011
 
Description Phil Diamond 
Organisation Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO)
Country Australia, Commonwealth of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Secondment of Phil Diamond as a director of the institute
Collaborator Contribution Salary
Impact N/A
Start Year 2009
 
Description Phil Diamond 
Organisation Square Kilometre Array (SKA) Africa
Country South Africa, Republic of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Secondment of Phil Diamond as SKA director
Collaborator Contribution Salary
Impact N/A
Start Year 2012
 
Description Shude Mao 
Organisation National Astronomical Observatories of China
Country China, People's Republic of 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution N/A
Collaborator Contribution Salary
Impact N/A
Start Year 2010
 
Description Discovery Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre organizes a wide range of activities aimed at hard-to-reach audiences. This includes young people for whom we organize major music events with science activities, and many school activities. The Centre attracts 140,000 people per year, including around 30,000 for the music festivals and 50,000 school children. The iconic Lovell telescope plays an important role in this activity. The Discovery Centre is recognized as the international leader in science outreach.

The 140,000 visitors per year raise the national profile of science and help to convince the political scene of the relevance of science. Many of the children come from disadvantages areas in the north of the UK. The leaders of these activities were awarded the Kelvin medal for their outreach work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010,2011,2012,2013,2014
URL http://www.jodrellbank.net/
 
Description Stargazing Live 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Jodrell Bank Observatory hosted the BBC Stargazing Live even every year since its inception. The program airs over three nights at prime time and including iplayer reached audiences of 10 million+ each year. Staff for JBCA were involved with the program and the presenting but the event was not JBCA specific.

The programs have had a massive impact on the national audiences, as evidenced by complete sell-out of astronomy magazines in the following weeks and very large interest on the internet. The increase of applicants to study physics may in part be related to these programs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014
 
Description The Jodcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Since 2006, we have produced a podcast called the Jodcast. This is led by our research students and reaches an audience of around 7,000 for each twice monthly show. The podcast includes the latest news in astronomy, interviews and ask an astronomer sections. Each month since Jan 2012 the show features a "Jodbite" in which one of the researchers in the group is interviewed about their work.

Impact is measured by downloads: each episode gets about 5000 downloads.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2006,2008,2009,2010,2011
URL http://www.jb.man.ac.uk/jodcast/