Recent news and science highlights from e-MERLIN, MERLIN and VLBI
e-MERLIN and Jodrell Bank Observatory:
A radio astronomy facility for the SKA era
Two Day workshop, Jodrell Bank Observatory 15-16th September 2016
The UK is taking a global leadership role in the SKA project. The HQ of the SKA Organization will be based in the UK at Jodrell Bank, and the UK is leading the international investment in the SKA.
e-MERLIN, the UK's National Radio Astronomy facility, and the 76-m Lovell Telescope constitute major radio astronomical facilities providing sub- arcsecond resolution imaging capabilities and state-of-the-art pulsar time- domain capabilities. Both are unique and world-class facilities and in combination have 25% of the collecting area of SKA1-mid with similar baseline and frequency coverage making them a powerful standalone instrument and pathfinder for SKA science.
We invite the UK's astronomical community to an open workshop discussing the latest science results from e-MERLIN and the Lovell telescopes and the development of a new integrated radio facility for the next era of Radio Astronomy.
e-MERLIN featured in Astronomy & Geophysics
The June issue of the Fellow's magazine of the Royal Astronomical Society, Astronomy & Geophysics, had a special cover feature and four articles describing the development of, and early science results from, our very own network of radio telescopes, e-MERLIN. Operated by the University of Manchester from Jodrell Bank, e-MERLIN is the UK's national facility for high- resolution radio astronomy, and has users from around the world. The special series of articles, coordinated and edited by Megan Argo, includes contributions from twenty researchers spread over three continents, and covers everything from star-forming regions in the Milky Way to very high redshift gavitationally-lensed quasars, and everything in between.
The series starts with a description of the history of the original MERLIN array, describing the technological advances and improvements that made possible the upgrade to e-MERLIN (with a factor of 30 increase in sensitivity over the old system), written by Simon Garrington and Rob Beswick. Next in the series, PhD students Charlie Walker and Ben Shaw take a look at how e-MERLIN is being used to probe stellar evolution within the Milky Way, including a look at how we can use radio interferometry to investigate the processes of both star and planet formation. Moving out into the wider universe, Megan Argo rounds up a selection of results looking at other galaxies within the local universe, and what these studies can potentially tell us about more distant objects. The series concludes with an article by Tom Muxlow looking at how e-MERLIN is helping us probe the star formation rate history of the universe, and what gravitational lensing can help us probe important cosmological parameters.
Table of contents: http://astrogeo.oxfordjournals. org/content/57/3.toc
10th May 2016
Deadline : Midnight (23:59 GMT) 26th May 2016
This is the third open round for e-MERLIN proposals, with observations scheduled for September 2016 onwards.
NEW: In Cycle-4 e-MERLIN will be offering new observing band capabilies at K-band (20-26GHz).
e-MERLIN Joins European VLBI Network
13th April 2016
In the latest call for proposals for observations using the European VLBI network (EVN) it was announced that it is possible to request that e-MERLIN outstation telescopes be included in the network. The EVN is an interferometric array of radio telescopes spread throughout Europe (and beyond, see image bot- tom left) that conducts high resolution radio astronomical observations of cosmic radio sources.
e-MERLIN is an array of seven radio telescopes operated by the University of Manchester based in the UK that consists of shorter baselines than VLBI and provides complementary resolution to allow larger scale structure of radio sources to be simultaneously investigated. This capability means that e-MERLIN occupies a unique posi- tion within the EVN.
The inclusion of the remote e-MERLIN antennas is now possible following recent software upgrades on the e- MERLIN correlator which can process the telescope sig- nals that are returned to the Observatory over the fibre network (at 30Gbit/s per telescope) into a form suitable for the EVN where the data rate is reduced to 1GBit/s total.
This means that EVN experiments can now include up to 4 of the e-MERLIN outstation telescopes in addition to either the Lovell or MK2 Telescopes at Jodrell Bank Ob- servatory, and the data can be delivered either live over the internet or sent later using hard disks.
9th July 2015
42 million light years away, 20 million times the mass of the Sun, and coming back to life. A team of radio astronomers, led by Dr Megan Argo of the Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, are watching a previously dormant black hole wake up in a dramatic display as material falls on to it for the first time for perhaps millions of years. Dr Argo reported their work today (9 July) at the National Astronomy Meeting at Venue Cymru, in Llandudno, Wales. to read more
6th July 2015
A team of astronomers led from St Andrews and Manchester universities today (6 July) announced the discovery of a ring of rocks circling a very young star. This is the first time these 'pebbles', thought to be a crucial link in building planets, have been detected. Dr Jane Greaves of the University of St Andrews presented the work at the National Astronomy Meeting at Venue Cymru in Llandudno, Wales. to read more
22nd August 2014
New research by a team of UK and European-based astronomers is helping to solve the mystery of what caused a spectacular supernova in a galaxy 11 million light years away, seen earlier this year.
The supernova, a giant explosion of a star and the closest one to the Earth in decades, was discovered earlier this year by chance at the University of London Observatory. These phenomena are extremely important to study because they provide key information about our universe, including how it is expanding and how galaxies evolve. to read more
Deadline : Midnight (23:59 GMT) 15th April 2014
This is the third open round for e-MERLIN proposals, with observations scheduled for September 2014 onwards.
Announcement of e-MERLIN data school and early science meeting
The e-MERLIN instrument is a high-resolution radio interferometer, capable of routine sub-arcsecond resolution imaging at centimetre wavelengths to sensitivity levels of a few microJy. Observations are competitively allocated by the Panel for the Allocation of Telescope Time, with a substantial proportion of time in the first few years being reserved for large Legacy Programmes. The science programme is wide-ranging and includes the study of the history of star-formation and black hole growth in galaxies, the physical processes which govern the formation of stars, the modes of activity in nearby galaxies, and the energetic processes in relativistic outflows from jets generated by black holes and compact objects.
e-MERLIN has now been in full operational mode for some months, and a meeting will be held in Manchester from 10-11 April 2014 to discuss early science, both from the Legacy projects and from PATT observations from Cycle 0 and the early part of the Cycle 1 allocations. Prior to that, on 20-21 January, there will be a two-day data school, the aim of which will be to help those unfamiliar with the techniques of radio interferometry to reduce e-MERLIN data, including the use of existing analysis pipelines provided by the observatory, in time to present results at the early science meeting.
Please see Meeting webpages for registration details and more information
Deadline : Midnight (23:59 GMT) 17th June 2013
The second open round for e-MERLIN proposals is planned for 2013, with observations scheduled for September 2013 onwards.
Mysterious hot spots observed in a cool red supergiant
25th April 2013
Astronomers have released a new image of the outer atmosphere of Betelgeuse one of the nearest red supergiants to Earth revealing the detailed structure of the matter being thrown off the star.
The new image, taken by the e-MERLIN radio telescope array operated from the Jodrell Bank Observatory in Cheshire, also shows regions of surprisingly hot gas in the star?s outer atmosphere and a cooler arc of gas weighing almost as much as the Earth.
K-band status and upgrades:
Work is progressing on upgrading the eMERLIN K band receivers by replacing the low noise amplifiers (LNAs) with a new MMIC design. Current tests indicate that the new LNAs will deliver a more uniform and significantly lower system temperature across the band from about 19.9 GHz to 26 GHz while providing the full 2GHz per polarization eMERLIN bandwidth.
Initial telescope tests are currently expected towards the end of summer 2013, with the full system expected to be deployed on all e-MERLIN telescopes and available for Cycle-2 observations.
e-MERLIN reveals the structure of a new 'superluminal transient' source in M82
Recent observations using the newly available e-MERLIN telescope have revealed the resolved structure of 'superluminal transient' radio source in M82. Results from these new observations, which have been obtained for the LeMMINGs e-MERLIN legacy project have recently been presented at a large international conference in Bordeaux, France.
The left image shows a high resolution Global VLBI image at 5GHz of the transient source in M82. The right-hand image show the same source observed with e-MERLIN in 2012. Whilst at lower resolution the sensitivity and imaging quality of e-MERLIN allows this source to be resolved in an east-west direction confirming the earlier MERLIN proper motion estimates of its expansion and the VLBI imaging. These e-MERLIN (and VLBI) observations are part of ongoing research under the e-MERLIN legacy project, LeMMINGs.
The boiling face of Betelgeuse
e-MERLIN has resolved fine details on the face of Betelgeuse. These are the highest-resolution images at cm wavelengths which show the full extent of the radiio photosphere, 25 AU (125 milli-arcsec) in radius, 6 times the optical photosphere. The sensitivity afforded by 500 MHz bandwidth, centred on 5.75 GHz (5.2 cm), reveals an additional arc to the SW. This probably represents enhanced mass loss, also seen in the IR by Kervella et al. (2009, 2011). The mass loss mechanism for a massive star like Betelgeuse just entering the red supergiant phase is rather mysterious, as there is not enough dust close to the star for radiation pressure on grains to drive a wind. The average brightness temperature of the radio photosphere at 5-6 GHz is about 1200 K, but e-MERLIN resolved two hotspots at 4000-5000 K. This is higher than the peak temperature of the optical photosphere (3600 K). The hot spots could be due to Betelgeuse's patchy chromosphere which is known to have a low filling factor (Harper et al. 2006), or to convection or pulsation shocks. Further work will identify which mechanism is responsible and the relationship with processes which could eject clumps of matter from the stellar surface to form the wind.
These results will be presented in a forthcoming publication and at the Betelgeuse Workshop 2012
The observations were made by A. M. S. Richards, R.J. Davis, S.T. Garrington, I. McDonald (University of Manchester), S. Etoka (University of Manchester and Hamburger Sternwarte), L. Decin (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven), J. J. Lim (University of Hong Kong and Academia Sinica) and Markus Wittkowski (ESO).
e-MERLIN's deep radio survey of the Hubble Deep Field: First results
27 Mar 2012
27th March 2012: e-MERLIN's deep radio survey of the Hubble Deep Field: First results
A team of astronomers at Jodrell Bank Observatory have begun the deepest ever high-resolution radio imaging of the region around the Hubble Deep Field (HDF), the images originally captured by the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) in the mid 1990s. The HDF led to the discovery of numerous galaxies billions of light years distant and provided direct visual evidence of the evolution of the Universe. First results from the new imaging, which uses observations from the UK's newly upgraded e-MERLIN radio telescope array together with the EVLA radio array based in New Mexico, show galaxies some 7 billion light years away in unprecedented detail. Graduate student Nick Wrigley will present the new results at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester on 27 March 2012.To read the full press release.
e-MERLIN Cycle-0 online simulator tool
12 Jan 2012
12th January 2012: e-MERLIN call for proposals Cycle-0 (semester 2012A)
A new web-based simulator designed to assist in proposal preparation for e-MERLIN, cycle-0 and beyond is now available at http://www.e-merlin.ac.uk/observe/eMERLINost.html
This easy to use simulator tool allows sensitivities, uv-coverages and simulated images to be produced to aid with all forms of e-MERLIN proposals.
e-MERLIN Cycle-0 (semester 12A) proposal submission tool is open
10 Jan 2012
10th January 2012: e-MERLIN call for proposals Cycle-0 (semester 2012A)
e-MERLIN is now open to proposals from the international astronomical community on the basis of scientific merit alone. Proposals are competitively peer-reviewed under standard STFC rules by the PATT e-MERLIN Time allocation Committee
The e-MERLIN proposal submission tool Northstar is now open for proposal submissions for Cycle-0
Proposal deadline = Midnight (23:59GMT) 26th January 2012
5 Jan 2012
5th January 2012: A boost for European Radio Astronomy
A boost for European Radio AstronomyThe European astronomy collaboration RadioNet has been granted 9.5 million Euros by the European Commission to fund its latest program, RadioNet3, for the years 2012 to 2015. This not only continues the two preceding European projects, but also takes a leap forward to include ALMA, as well as a number of pathfinder pro grams for the SKA. Read the full press release at the MPIfR site.
10 Jan 2012
10th January 2012: e-MERLIN call for proposals Cycle-0 (semester 2012A)
e-MERLIN announces first open call for proposals
12 Dec 2011
12th December 2011: e-MERLIN call for proposals Cycle-0 (semester 2012A)
e-MERLIN is now open to proposals from the international astronomical community on the basis of scientific merit alone. Proposals are competitively peer-reviewed under standard STFC rules by the PATT e-MERLIN Time allocation Committee. During the first 5 semesters of e-MERLIN operations ~50% of observing time has been allocated to 12 large legacy projects and most of the remaining time will be allocated via PATT to standard proposals solicited prior to each observing semester. e-MERLIN provides high resolution (40-150mas) and high sensitivity (~6-12 uJy in this cycle 0) imaging at cm wavelengths as well as polarimetry, spectroscopy and astrometry. Shared-risk 'Cycle-0' observations will start in February 2012, with some limitations in observing capabilities.
Black holes and warped space: New UK telescope shows off first images
9 Dec 2010
9th December 2010: Black holes and warped space: New UK telescope shows off first images
This dramatic image is the first to be produced by e-MERLIN, a powerful new array of radio telescopes linked across the UK.
Spearheaded by the University of Manchester's Jodrell Bank Observatory and funded by the Science and Technology Facilities Council, the e-MERLIN telescope will allow astronomers to address key questions relating to the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars and planets.
To demonstrate its capabilities, University of Manchester astronomers turned the new telescope array toward the "Double Quasar". This enigmatic object, first discovered by Jodrell Bank, is a famous example of Einstein's theory of gravity in action.
The new image shows how the light from a quasar billions of light years away is bent around a foreground galaxy by the curvature of space. This light has been travelling for 9 billion years before it reached the Earth. The quasar is a galaxy powered by a super-massive black hole, leading to the ejection of jets of matter moving at almost the speed of light - one of which can be seen arcing to the left in this new e-MERLIN image.
The e-MERLIN image is shown in false-colour with a colour table ranging from blue through red to white, where the colours represent the bri ghtness of the radio emission. The HST image is made from WFPC2 images through two filters: the F555W filter (V-band) is coloured green and the F 814W filter (I-band) is coloured red.
Credit: Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics, University of Manchester