AAS 207th Meeting, 8-12 January 2006
Session 66 Undergraduate Astronomy
Poster, Tuesday, 9:20am-6:30pm, January 10, 2006, Exhibit Hall

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[66.08] Using Small Radio Telescopes for VLBI-mode Interferometry

E.R. Evarts (Brandeis University), A.E.E. Rogers, P. Pratap (MIT Haystack Observatory)

MIT Haystack Observatory has developed a new receiver system that enables the Small Radio Telescope to be used as a VLBI station, which uses GPS for frequency and timing and the internet for remote control and data retrieval. During the summer of 2005, as part of an REU program, three SRTs were set up and tested as an unconnected element interferometer. We will discuss the process of setting up the interferometer, including the hardware and software.

The three SRTs were set up to form one short baseline of about 5m and two long baselines of about 1.4 km. We observed consistent strong fringes on the Sun using the short baseline and an occasional "microburst" on the long baseline. Strong fringes were observed during these microbursts which typically lasted from a few seconds to a minute. Further observations of the Sun, during the period of high solar activity in early September 2005, several more events were observed with the long baseline. We have started to correlate the VLBI data with other solar activity, particularly X-Ray flares as seen by the GOES Satellites. Our preliminary results show a strong connection between the 1.4GHz microbursts and X-Ray flares.

The extragalactic source Cygnus A was also observed on the long baselines and a double source model was fit to the data. These test observations were carried out while developing software to simplify VLBI observations with the SRT. The SRT interferometer was developed under a program that brings radio astronomical observing techniques to the undergraduate classroom.

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