Lancaster University

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Solar mm-wave radio telescope

04/01/2003 16:26:57

Researchers in Lancaster University's 5* rated Physics Department have developed a new telescope to observe the sun.

The solar mm-wave radio telescope has been designed and constructed by Dr Max Lazarus, Lewis Macfarlane, Tad Komorowski, Andy Muirhead and the Physics workshop. It will be used to search the sun for high frequency microwaves (usually called millimetre waves) which might indicate when disturbances, such as storms on the Sun, may occur.

Dr Max Lazarus explained: "The sun is a very typical star and one of billions, except that it is still full of mysteries.

"Sun Spots are among the mysterious phenomena. They are violent storms on the Sun and are associated with solar flares. They send all kind of emissions to the Earth, including hot belts of ionised gas which trap electromagnetic energy - sufficient to knock out communications, electronics, and even the multi megawatt Canadian Hydroelectric system."

The solar mm-wave radio telescope could give four days of early warning about geomagnetic disturbances.

There are many electromagnetic 'storms' at higher frequencies also. There is interference with ordinary radio and microwaves by various processes.

The researchers' initial search will cover 26.5 GHz to 40 GHz (a large bandwidth). Later they will search other frequency bands.

The Physics Department received a 5* - the highest rating available indicating research of international excellence - in the recent HEFCE Research Assessment Exercise.