INAF contributes to the development of the African Vlbi array
Italy will contribute with INAF and its researchers Alessandro Orfei and Marcello Giroletti to the development of the AVN-African Vlbi Network, the new African Vlbi-Very Long Baseline Interferometry array equipped with a technology that uses several radiotelescopes, one far from the other, in a simultaneous and coordinated way.
The idea belongs to Professor Michael Gaylard, Director of the South Africa’s Hartebeeshoek Radio Astronomy Observatory-HartRAO at the time, who realized that it was possible to reconvert the facilities previously used for satellite communications that have become obsolete due to the arrival of the optical fibre into radiotelescopes.
The first antenna to get into operation is Kuntunse, a 32-metre paraboloid used to make the first successful experimental astronomical observations, also thanks to the Italian know how. The antenna will be included in the European EVN-European Vlbi Network, which also includes the three Italian radiotelescopes of Noto, Medicina and the Sardinia Radio Telescope.
“A delegation of African engineers visited the Medicina station a few months ago – said Orfei – and we were very proud to see that it was very helpful seeing that our team of technologists had already found the solutions, rbased on their long-term experience, to solve many of the issues they had”.
“Thanks to its location in Southern Europe – said Giroletti – Italy, with its three antennas, is a partner strongly interested in collaborating with AVN and bridging the European and African networks”.
A new southern Vlbi array will allow to increase the number of data available for observation enormously and will be a new tool to increase our knowledge of the sky.