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Astrophysics, from INAF a project to observe the Sun with Italian radio telescopes

Astrophysics, from INAF a project to observe the Sun with Italian radio telescopes

An experimental project for the observation of the Sun using Italian radio telescopes, developed from an idea by researcher Alberto Pellizzoni of the National Institute for Astrophysics-INAF, has recently been launched.

The research involves a group of scientists from INAF and the Italian Space Agency-ASI

The aim of the project is to study in detail the chemical-physical processes that occur in our star and to acquire further information on the so-called “space weather”: a set of phenomena that have an impact on Earth and that can damage our communication systems. 

Although there are telescopes designed specifically for solar observation, Pellizzoni proposed to test the capacity of the most advanced radio telescopes available to INAF, to “take pictures” of the Sun. This complex activity required careful preliminary investigations, aimed at assessing and preventing the risks related to the overheating of the instruments and the saturation of the receiver band, associated with the huge amount of electromagnetic signal generated by our star. 

The first feasibility study was conducted by Pellizzoni at INAF in Cagliari and at the Medicina Radio Astronomical Station, near Bologna. “Once received the green light from these preliminary evaluations and tests, we carried out some preliminary tests in Medicina which gave positive results. This led to an experimental technical-scientific programme for solar observation at 24 GHz, currently underway in Medicina”, Pellizzoni told Media INAF. 

Meanwhile, the Medicina radio telescope has already captured images of the solar atmosphere showing signs of flares, whose effects have been felt on our planet on the days following the shot. But the activity of researchers does not end here.

“The antenna in Medicina will allow us to monitor the solar activity frequently in order to study the relationship that exists between what is observed in the radio band and the development of phenomena in the photosphere and chromosphere of our star. The hope is to find some precursors that are also interesting for space weather forecasting”, explained Simona Righini, a researcher at INAF in Bologna and one of the promoters of the project. 

Similar tests for the validation and feasibility of solar observations are being carried out at the Sardinia Radio Telescope, the huge INAF antenna located near Cagliari. The next goal is to make more radio telescopes work in synergy to monitor solar activity.

Publication date 04/09/2018
Source Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica
Tag Physical Sciences and Engineering