Urgent replacement of Hydrogen maser frequency standard for e-MERLIN and VLBI.

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

Abstract

e-MERLIN is the UK's national facility for radio astronomy imaging. With 7 telescopes across the UK, linked by a dedicated optical fibre network to a powerful correlattion hub at Jodrell Bank Observatory, the array provides radio imaging at centimetre wavelengths with similar resolution to the optical images produced by the Hubble Space Telescope. When radiop telescopes at JBO are joined with others in Europe and around the world, images at even greater resolution can be produced allowing for example the physical processes near black holes to be studied. The 76-m Lovell Telescope at JBO is still one of the worlds most productive in terms of studying pulsars (spiining neutron stars) and in conjunction with other telescopes acrtoss Europe is searching for the signals of gravitational waves by making the most accurate timing measuremenrs of pulsars. All these observations require a reliable, stable and accurate time and frequency standard in order to coherently combine signals from separate telescopes and to mke the most precise timing measurements. The 'gold standard' frequency standard (or clock)for these measurements is a type of atomic clock known as a hydrogen maser. JBO purchased an H-maser almost 30 years ago when these were first adopted by radio astronomy obsservatories, but this is now well past its expected lifetime and had had to be repaired several times. Its crucial position in our observing system means that we need to replace it now.

Planned Impact

Scientific and technical research and development in radio astronomy has a broad impact on society as well as scientific advance in many of the Science Challenges outlined by STFC. e-MERLIN, VLBI and Lovell Telescope research projects will have impact in all four of the key STFC science areas: work on pulsars and gravitational waves allow precise tests of gravity and fundamental physics (STFC Science Challenges C2, D1, D2, D3); searching for fast radio bursts, transients and potential signals from extra-terrestrial intelligence (B3, C4); observations of planet and star-formation probe some of the crucial and poorly understood phases in these processes (B1, A6); studies of galaxy formation and evolution will allow significant advance in understanding how when and where galaxies formed the bulk of their stars (A4, A5) and experiments in cosmic shear and gravitational lensing probe dark matter and dark energy (A3, C4, C5). All these observations require the sensitivity provided by the cryogenic receivers, whose components are requested here.

The wider impact of radio astronomy research is a key part of activities at Jodrell Bank Observatory and the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, which now has over 160,000 visitors/year and a dedicated schools programme reaching more than 10,000 pupils/yr. e-MERLIN science and technology form an important part those exhibits and activities and e-MERLIN staff gives talks and presentations at various levels at many events in the Discovery Centre and elsewhere, including music and science festivals attended by up to 20,000 visitors.

Radio astronomy technology developed as part of e-MERLIN and VLBI has had a major impact on the UK participation in the Square Kilometre Array project: the UK leads ths signal and data transport consortium for SKA, based on its experience and expertise from e-MERLIN and e-VLBI. Radio astronomy technology has had a wide impact in general, from the development of low noise amplifiers, large parabolic antennas, algorithms for image processing and medical imaging; wi-fi technology was developed by radio astronomers in Australia, following the experiments with dedicated hardware for radio astronomy signal processing.

Publications

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Perez-Torres M. (2019) Radio detection of the tidal disruption event AT2019azh in The Astronomer's Telegram

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Perez-Torres M. (2019) Mass-loss rate constraints from e-MERLIN observations of the Type Iax SN 2019muj in The Astronomer's Telegram

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Perez-Torres M. (2019) Unambiguous radio detection of the tidal disruption event AT2019dsg with e-MERLIN in The Astronomer's Telegram

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Morford J (2020) COBRaS: The e-MERLIN 21 cm Legacy survey of Cygnus OB2 in Astronomy & Astrophysics

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Battye R (2020) SuperCLASS - I. The super cluster assisted shear survey: Project overview and data release 1 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Marcote B. (2020) GRB 201015A: 5-GHz radio afterglow detection with the EVN in GRB Coordinates Network

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Muxlow T (2020) The e-MERGE Survey (e-MERLIN Galaxy Evolution Survey): overview and survey description in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Worrall D (2020) A high-resolution view of the jets in 3C 465 in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Manning S (2020) SuperCLASS - II. Photometric redshifts and characteristics of spatially resolved ยต Jy radio sources in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

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Congiu E (2020) The radio structure of the narrow-line Seyfert 1 Mrk 783 with VLBA and e-MERLIN in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society

 
Description The award supports the continued operation of e-MERLIN and EVN, used by hundreds of scientists in the UK and around the world, to work on many of the key science challenges identified by STFC including studies of the formation of planets around other stars, the formation and evolution of stars and galaxies, the energetic processes around black holes and compact objects, the nature and distribution of dark matter. e-MERLIN also develops and advances techniques in analogue and digital signal processing and image processing.
Exploitation Route e-MERLIN and EVN projects feed into the current and future astronomy projects including the Square Kilometre Array
Sectors Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software)

URL http://e-merlin.ac.uk
 
Description The award will contribute to the continued operation of the e-MERLIN/VLBI National Facility at Jodrell Bank Observatory. This underpins the scientific operation and output of Jodrell Bank, supporting the Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre, which attracts over 160,000 visitors/yr including a large schools programme, major music/science festivals, public lecture series etc. Jodrell Bank was inscribed on the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites in 2019, recognising its contribution to the development of radio astronomy and its continuing scientific output.The scientific vitality of e-MERLIN and Jodrell Bank Observatory is also key to the presence of the international HQ of the Square Kilometre Array Organisation, responsible for the design, construction and operation of the Square Kilometre Array - one of the world's largest science experiments/facilities and now an international governmental organisation bound by treaty. The equipment has been commissioned and was brought into operation in mid 2019 and now contributes to improved frequency stability and timing precision. Observations being made since then have been published and will continue to be publishedin the coming months and years. We have recently started to do some work with Dstl, including participation in a NATO Sensors and Electronics Technology Group (SET-293) on Space Situational Awareness which would involve synchronisation of bistatic long baseline radar using the Hydrogen maser
Sector Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic

 
Description Opticon-RadioNet Pilot 
Organisation ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy
Country Netherlands 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Provision of transnational access to e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network. Collaborative work on development, improvement and harmonisation of user services for transnational access to optical and radio facilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of transnational access to a wide range of optical and radio facilities. Improvments to users services. education and training European astronomical community.
Impact Provision of transnational access to wide range of european optical and radio astronomy facilities
Start Year 2021
 
Description Opticon-RadioNet Pilot 
Organisation Chalmers University of Technology
Country Sweden 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of transnational access to e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network. Collaborative work on development, improvement and harmonisation of user services for transnational access to optical and radio facilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of transnational access to a wide range of optical and radio facilities. Improvments to users services. education and training European astronomical community.
Impact Provision of transnational access to wide range of european optical and radio astronomy facilities
Start Year 2021
 
Description Opticon-RadioNet Pilot 
Organisation Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE)
Country Netherlands 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Provision of transnational access to e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network. Collaborative work on development, improvement and harmonisation of user services for transnational access to optical and radio facilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of transnational access to a wide range of optical and radio facilities. Improvments to users services. education and training European astronomical community.
Impact Provision of transnational access to wide range of european optical and radio astronomy facilities
Start Year 2021
 
Description Opticon-RadioNet Pilot 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of transnational access to e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network. Collaborative work on development, improvement and harmonisation of user services for transnational access to optical and radio facilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of transnational access to a wide range of optical and radio facilities. Improvments to users services. education and training European astronomical community.
Impact Provision of transnational access to wide range of european optical and radio astronomy facilities
Start Year 2021
 
Description Opticon-RadioNet Pilot 
Organisation National Geographic Institute
Country Spain 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provision of transnational access to e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network. Collaborative work on development, improvement and harmonisation of user services for transnational access to optical and radio facilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of transnational access to a wide range of optical and radio facilities. Improvments to users services. education and training European astronomical community.
Impact Provision of transnational access to wide range of european optical and radio astronomy facilities
Start Year 2021
 
Description Opticon-RadioNet Pilot 
Organisation Science and Technologies Facilities Council (STFC)
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Provision of transnational access to e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network. Collaborative work on development, improvement and harmonisation of user services for transnational access to optical and radio facilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of transnational access to a wide range of optical and radio facilities. Improvments to users services. education and training European astronomical community.
Impact Provision of transnational access to wide range of european optical and radio astronomy facilities
Start Year 2021
 
Description Opticon-RadioNet Pilot 
Organisation University of Cambridge
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Provision of transnational access to e-MERLIN and European VLBI Network. Collaborative work on development, improvement and harmonisation of user services for transnational access to optical and radio facilities
Collaborator Contribution Provision of transnational access to a wide range of optical and radio facilities. Improvments to users services. education and training European astronomical community.
Impact Provision of transnational access to wide range of european optical and radio astronomy facilities
Start Year 2021
 
Description RadioNet 
Organisation Max Planck Society
Department Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
Country Germany 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution transnational access to e-MERLIN and EVN; R&D in calibration/imaging
Collaborator Contribution transnational access; R&D for radio astronomy instrumentation
Impact transnational access to multiple radio astronomy facilities in Europe resulting in published research, improvements to radio astronomy instrumentation
Start Year 2017
 
Description Public Lecture at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public Lecture on e-MERLIN and Lovell Telescope at Jodrell Bank Discovery Centre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description Public Talk - Lichfield Science & Engineering Soc 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact public talk on development and science of Jodrell Bank & e-MERLIN
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
 
Description lovell60 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Public talk at Jodrell Bank Discover Centre
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017