Optical telescopes were the only way to see the universe, as long as we understood the universe as far as our eyes could see. But since scientists began to realize that there is more to research, new types of telescopes have been invented. The radio telescope was an early invention in that area. The scientists invented a radio telescope to collect radio waves and analyze them. Knowing all of the above, a deep curiosity raise in your mind is how does a radio telescope work? How has such a large telescope continued to contribute to science? Follow this article to know how a radio telescope works; here, we have outlined the whole process in an understandable way.
Main Parts of Radio telescope: What are the main parts of a radio telescope?
Before learning how a radio telescope works, you need to know its main parts. Knowing the main parts and their functions will make it easier to know the working process of a radio telescope.
Dish Antenna: Just as an optical telescope receives light from a distant object through its aperture, so a dish antenna of a radio telescope collects radio waves. Normally large antennas can collect more radio waves, so in most cases, radio telescopes are much larger.
Receiver: There is a receiver to receive the stored radio waves. Since radio waves are of different shapes, there may be many different types of receivers to receive these different cosmic waves. This receiver is susceptible to receive any wave. For maximum sensitivity, the receiver has to be kept below freezing temperature.
Detector: The detector makes the selection from these radio waves which signal can be used to take pictures and which cannot.
Analyzer: Analyzer does the latest work that analyzes and creates images from a computer.
Working Process of Radio Telescope: How does a radio telescope work?
Step 1: Collecting Radio Waves
Dish antenna collects radio waves of different sizes. But since the radio waves are fragile and large, the dish surface is much larger.
Step 2: Reflecting the Radio Waves to Sub-reflector
The radio first waves come to the dish antenna. Since the dish surface is of parabolic shape, this parabolic shaped dish surface reflect the radio waves to the sub-reflector or secondary reflector.
Step 3: Reflecting the Radio Waves to the Feed Horn
After all the radio waves are reflected from the dish surface to the sub-reflectors, the curved sub-reflectors reflect these radio waves to the feed horn.
Step 4: Detecting the Radio Waves
After all the waves arrive at the feed horn, the feed horn detects the required radio waves from these radio waves. Every signal is not essential for the researchers. So, they attached a feed horn in a radio telescope to detect the essential signals.
Step 5: Receiving the Radio Waves by the Receiver
These identified radio waves then go to the receiver. A radio telescope can have many receivers because the shape or types of radio waves are different. There are separate receivers for collecting these different types of waves. Since radio waves are fragile, you need sensitive receivers.
Step 6: Recording
This time the radio telescope will record these stored radio waves. A radio telescope is a recording device that is attached to a computer. After the receiver receives the waves, it sends them to this recorder. The recorder records the waves and creates required images.
Step 7: Analyzing
That is the last step. Here you will do the work of analysis. The primary purpose of using a radio telescope is done in this step. In other words, scientists invented the radio telescope for this step.
Frequently Asked Questions: (FAQs)
What are the uses of the Radio telescope?
- The radio telescope is an incredible invention for space research. Because of this, a significant change has taken place in the space researching field. Scientists can now easily perceive different objects in the universe.
- Radio astronomy is an excellent subject for school or university students. Learning to use a radio telescope is very important for the subject of radio astronomy. And these are the reasons why schools and universities use radio telescopes for radio astronomy.
- Various science institutes use radio telescopes because radio telescopes play a vital role in learning astronomy.
- Radio telescopes are used in museums or planetariums to attract the general public to astronomy. Here the radio telescope is set up in such a way that ordinary people can use it without any skill.
What are the advantages of a radio telescope?
- Clouds cannot interfere with the radio telescope’s signal collection because the radio waves that come to the antenna of the radio telescope are free from obstacles. The earth’s atmosphere can’t stop them.
- You have known for so long that telescopes have to be used in deep darkness, during the day. Yes, you heard right, you should use your optical telescope only at night. But day and night are all the same for a radio telescope. Because you can use radio telescope any time of the day or night, you will get equal performance in both times.
- You know that pollution occurs in the universe at different times due to different reasons, at this time you can’t see with a standard optical telescope. But with a radio telescope, you can perceive space at any time because no kind of pollution can prevent the observation of the radio telescope.
- You can also see the birthplace of the star, the cold cloud of hydrogen gas, with a radio telescope. Clouds of cold hydrogen gas do not emit any visible light. But radio waves are generated so radio telescopes can collect them.
- You would be surprised to know that with a radio telescope you can detect any hot object such as hot gas rotating next to black holes.
What are the disadvantages of a radio telescope?
The first of the bad aspects is that radio waves are fragile and have very low frequencies, which is why radio telescopes are so large. And because these waves are so weak, telescopes have to be set up in uninhabited areas to collect them because the noise sinks the radio wave.
How much does a radio telescope cost?
The high-frequency dish antenna radio telescope is expensive. It costs around $500000. Too much, right? Yes, amateur astronomers do not use any radio telescope. Optical telescopes (Reflector telescope, Refractor telescope, Catadioptric telescope) are for everyday uses. Different astronomical researching agencies use radio telescopes for their research purposes.
These were the details about the radio telescope. Here we have tried what a radio telescope is and how it works. In summary, a radio telescope is a telescope that collects radio waves from the electromagnetic spectrum of an object through a dish antenna. Its parabolic dish surface then reflects the stored radio waves towards the secondary reflector, and this secondary reflector reflects the waves at the feed horn, detects the feed horn waves, and sends them to the receiver. Then the analyzer analyzes the image.
I am an enthusiastic student of optics, so I may be biased when I say that optics is one of the most critical fields. It doesn’t matter what type of optics you are talking about – optics for astronomy, medicine, engineering, or pleasure – all types are essential.
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