The Radio Universe: astronomy and astrophysics at the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics 2014-2017

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

Abstract

The Universe is in a state of continuous evolution. The Big Bang left small irregularities which later grew into clusters, galaxies, and stars. Large black holes formed at the centre of the galaxies. Stars and black holes
interact with their environment, heating the gas through jets and supernova explosions, and enriching the galaxies with new elements formed in stars, and with 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 from jets emitted by the black holes, and from gas ionized by massive stars. The cores of massive stars, left after their supernova explosions, emit radio pulses as so-called pulsars. All these 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. Jodrell Bank is active in each of these areas. The research is supported by an active technology program. We develop cryogenically 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, star formation, winds from the Sun, stars and extrasolar planets. It is supported by 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

1. Outreach

Outreach is a core activity of the JBCA, to which considerable resources are devoted. Our outreach works builds on the research and the facilities, and the research in this application will become part of the existing programmes.

The Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics has a major outreach programme centred around the Observatory and the Lovell Telescope. The University opened a new Discovery Centre in April 2011 which is now attracting 130,000 visitors per annum - including 15,000 children on school visits, the scientists and engineers of the future. The new Centre showcases live science, highlighting our STFC-funded research including the work of the Lovell Telescope, e-MERLIN, research on the CMB, black holes, stars and the search for life. An upcoming exhibition will also feature ALMA, VLT, E-ELT and SKA.

Astronomy and space have always had the power to inspire. BBC Stargazing Live broadcasting from Jodrell Bank attracts around 10 million viewers over each 3 night series. The programme enables us to showcase a wide range of astronomy and space activity, including the work of the Jodrell Bank group but also that of other astrophysics research groups across the UK.

We carry out a variety of outreach events into schools. For example, the outreach programme for National Astronomy Meeting 2012 (held in Manchester) included researcher visits to 12 local schools speaking to almost 600 pupils. A further 800 6th form students visited the University during NAM to listen to a talk about future large telescopes and 380 people came to two public lectures.

We have always encouraged our postgraduate students and early-career researchers to take part in outreach. Their enthusiasm and commitment to the subject is infectious. A good example of their contribution is The Jodcast. This is a twice-monthly podcast covering all areas of astronomy and space science, including of course the work of the research group here. The Jodcast has been running since Jan 2006 and has around 3,500 regular
listeners.

Over the next years, we will continue to reach out to the children and public, both through the Discovery Centre and through school and outreach events. The Centre is particularly commited to engaging 'hard to reach' audiences by organising innovative events e.g. the Live from Jodrell Bank music/science festivals events
(www.jodrellbanklive.co.uk). This will ensure a very high public impact of STFC-funded research.

2. Knowledge Exchange

Our economic impact is related to the technological R\&D, and telescopes and facilities. We work closely with a variety of companies. Examples include high-speed internet connections, where 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 BT and the medical profession, where there are potential future applications. We are leading two SKA work packages for development of data transport and timing, with major industry involvement. Potential industry partners include the major international players, Nokia Siemens, CISCO, Cienna, Arup, Aurecon, Selex TS, National Instruments and UK enterprises including the National Physical Laboratory, and Gnodal.

Our STFC-funded cyrogenic development has lead to an IPS award in collboration with ICEOxford, starting April 2013. Our high aspect ratio SML electron beam resist has been licensed to an external company (EM Resist ltd).
The University has made knowledge transfer a priority, and provides support for setting up spin-off companies. JBCA is also making use of an an EPSRC knowledge transfer grant of 8.3 million pounds to the University of
Manchester.

Publications


10 25 50
Ade PA (2015) Joint analysis of BICEP2/keck array and Planck Data. in Physical review letters
Adhikari R (2017) A White Paper on keV sterile neutrino Dark Matter in Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics
Aleman I (2014) HerschelPlanetary Nebula Survey (HerPlaNS) in Astronomy & Astrophysics
Alves M (2015) The HIPASS survey of the Galactic plane in radio recombination lines in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
Angrick C (2015) Constraints on Omand s8from the potential-based cluster temperature function in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society
 
Description The grant covers a range of research in astronomy, cosmology and technology. Technological developments include development of low-noise amplifiers at radio frequencies which are usable over very wide bandwidths. A scientific highlight is the identification of a fast radio burst (a millisecond radio signal) to a distant galaxy. The burst is probably due to the merger of two neutron stars.
Exploitation Route The research will impact a large academic community. Technology will impact companies involved in building the SKA.
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education
 
Description The research has been used extensively in the outreach program of the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, which attracts 160,000 visitors per annum and focusses on hard-to-reach audiences.
First Year Of Impact 2014
Sector Education
Impact Types Cultural,Societal
 
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
 
Title HTRU2 - Prof Ben Stappers 
Description HTRU2 is a data set which describes a sample of pulsar candidates collected during the High Time Resolution Universe Survey (South). These are used for testing streaming Machine Learning algorithms. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2016 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact The database will be used in other pulsar surveys, such as Fermi and SKA. 
URL https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3080389.v1
 
Description MHD Avalanches - Prof Philippa Browning 
Organisation University of St Andrews
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK) 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Proposing interactions of flux tubes; relaxation modelling.
Collaborator Contribution MHD simulations.
Impact Two papers on MHD avalanches.
Start Year 2014
 
Description MMIC Circuits 
Organisation California Institute of Technology
Department Caltech Astronomy
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Designing mmic circuits to be built on experimental wafers with NGST
Collaborator Contribution Partner makes the wafers.
Impact Amplifiers for ALMA with very large bandwidth are being designed and are part of our bid for building the ALMA receivers.
Start Year 2012
 
Description BBC Sky at Night Interview - Prof Philippa Browning 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Interview on nanoflare coronal heating
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b06626c5
 
Description Events at Jodrell Bank 
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 We hold special events at Jodrell Bank including outdoor cinema with associated science engagement, science festivals (e.g. Cheshire Science Festival) and targeted events like Girls Night Out. These are aimed at reaching a wider and more diverse audience. Since April 2014, when this grant started, events including engagement with our research on this grant reached 5,884 people.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.jodrellbank.net
 
Description Jodcast 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Bi-weekly podcast, 1 hour program with interviews, news items, etc. Run by postdocs and students
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015,2016
URL http://www.jodcast.net
 
Description Keynote talk at British Astronomical Society weekend September 2014 - Prof Clive Dickinson 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Invited Keynote talk at the British Astronomical Society (BAS) weekend workshop hosted by the Macclesfield Astronomical Society, at the Macclesfield town hall. Talk to ~100 amateur astronomers.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britastro.org/meeting_render/3540
 
Description Lovell Lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The Lovell Lectures is a series of public lectures held at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre aimed at a general audience. A lecture is held every 2-3 months with speakers typically alternating between one of our own research group and someone external. Since April 2014 (the beginning of this grant) there have been 8 lectures by members of our group reaching a total audience of 1,186.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.jodrellbank.net
 
Description Meet the Scientist 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact During school holidays, members of the research group give a short talk about their research and answer questions from visitors at a Meet the Scientist session at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre. Since April 2014 (the start of this grant), there have been 55 Meet the Scientist sessions, reaching a total of 4,779 visitors.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.jodrellbank.net
 
Description Science exhibition at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The exhibition at the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre showcases the work of the research group, including stellar evolution, pulsars, gravitational lensing, the CMB, Lovell Telescope, e-MERLIN and SKA. Visitors to the Centre engage with the exhibition with interactive elements and through explainers stationed to answer questions. The total number of visitors to the Discovery Centre in the period April 2014 through February 2016 was 254,524 (this is the period of this grant). Typically, 94% of visitors come from within a 60 mile radius of Jodrell Bank. Of course traffic to the website is international. Note the exhibition continually develops and has been open since 2011.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.jodrellbank.net
 
Description Stargazing Live 
Form Of Engagement Activity A broadcast e.g. TV/radio/film/podcast (other than news/press)
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Stargazing Live is a series of at least 3 programmes broadcast each year live from Jodrell Bank and presented by Brian Cox and Dara O'Briain. Each series features elements of Jodrell Bank research e.g. in 2014 we used the e-MERLIN telescope live to image a gravitational lens discovered in a citizen science project. In 2016 the citizen science project, Pulsar Hunters, was developed by our researchers and resulted in millions of data classifications. Audiences are typically a few million for each programme in each series.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2011,2012,2013,2014,2015
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b019h4g8
 
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/