Ooty Radio Telescope
Radio Telescope at Ooty
|Location(s)||Muthorai, Tamil Nadu, India|
|Organization||Tata Institute of Fundamental Research|
|Altitude||2,240 m (7,350 ft)|
|Wavelength||0.92 m (330 MHz)|
|Telescope style||Cylindrical Paraboloid|
|Length||530 m (1,738 ft 10 in)|
|Width||30 m (98 ft 5 in)|
|Collecting area||16,000 m2 (170,000 sq ft)|
The Ooty Radio Telescope is located in Muthorai near Ootacamund (Ooty), south India. It is part of the National Centre for Radio Astrophysics (NCRA) of the well known Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) which is funded by the Government of India through the Department of atomic energy. The Ooty Radio Telescope (ORT) is a 530-metre (1,740 ft) long and 30-metre (98 ft) cylindrical parabolic antenna. It operates at a frequency of 326.5 MHz with a maximum bandwidth of 15 MHz at the front-end.
The Ooty Radio telescope has been designed and fabricated with domestic Indian technological resources. The ORT was completed in 1970 and continues to be one of the most sensitive radio telescopes in the world.
The reflecting surface of the telescope is made of 1100 thin stainless-steel wires running parallel to each other for the entire length of the cylinder and supported on 24 steerable parabolic frames.
The structure of the radio telescope was designed in July 1963. Muthorai village near Ooty was selected as the suitable location and the construction work began in 1965. The telescope was completed in 1970. Normal post commissioning and calibration use began in 1971.
The ORT was upgraded in 1992 by the addition of a phased array of 1056 array of dipoles each followed by a GaAsFET low noise amplifier (LNA) and a four bit PIN diode microstripline phase shifter behind each dipole. The new feed was installed along the focal line of the 530m long and 30m wide parabolic cylindrical reflector of the ORT. This new feed brought about an improvement in the sensitivity of the ORT by a factor over three compared to the previous feed. The high sensitivity of the feed system and the large collecting area of ORT has been fully exploited for the studies of astrophysical phenomena such as pulsars, solar wind, recombination lines and protogalaxy.
As of 2017, the ORT was undergoing a major upgrade to its receiver chain, which will result in a new system called the Ooty Wide Field Array (OWFA). The OWFA is designed to function as a 264-element interferometric array, and to provide a significantly larger instantaneous bandwidth as well as field-of-view compared to the legacy ORT receiver system. This upgrade will significantly enhance the ORT's capabilities for heliospheric studies. Additionally this upgrade is also expected to open other avenues of research particularly in the newly emerging areas of 21-cm intensity mapping and studies of transient radio sources.
The large size of the telescope makes it highly sensitive. As an example, it is in principle capable of detecting signals from a mere 1 watt radio station located 10 million km away in space. The telescope sits on a natural slope of 11°, which matches the latitude of the location. This gives the telescope an equatorial mount which allows tracking of celestial sources for up to ten hours in the east-west direction. In the north-south direction, the telescope operates as a phased-array and is steerable by varying the phase gradients
The telescope can be operated in either total power or correlation mode. In each mode, 12 beams are formed and Beam 1 is the southern most beam and Beam 12 is the northern most. These 12-beam systems are useful in sky-survey type of observations. Recently, the reflecting surface of the ORT has been refurbished. A new digital back-end has been built for the ORT by the colleagues at Raman Research Institute (RRI), Bangalore.
The ORT has produced results on radio galaxies, quasars, supernovae and pulsars, One long-term program determined the angular structure of several hundred distant radio galaxies and quasars using the lunar occultation method.
The telescope is currently being used mainly to observe interplanetary scintillation, which may provide valuable information about the solar wind and magnetic storms that affect the near - earth environment. Interplanetary scintillation observations provide a database to understand space weather changes and their predictability.
This is widely used for IPS observations.
- IPS observations: The interplanetary scintillation (IPS) observations obtained from the Ooty Radio Telescope on a large number of radio sources provide the day-to-day changes of the solar wind speed and density turbulence in the inner heliosphere.
- Pulsar Timing observations
- Spectral line observations
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