Astronomical radio source

Astronomical radio sources are objects in outer space that emit strong radio waves. Radio emission comes from a wide variety of sources. Such objects represent some of the most extreme and energetic physical processes in the universe.

In 1932, American physicist and radio engineer Karl Jansky detected radio waves coming from an unknown source in the center of our galaxy. Jansky was studying the origins of radio frequency interference for Bell Laboratories. He found "...a steady hiss type static of unknown origin", which eventually he concluded had an extraterrestrial origin. This was the first time that radio waves were detected from outer space. The first radio sky survey was conducted by Grote Reber and was completed in 1941. In the 1970s, some stars in our galaxy were found to be radio emitters, one of the strongest being the unique binary MWC 349.

As the nearest star, the Sun is the brightest radiation source in most frequencies, down to the radio spectrum at 300 MHz (1 m wavelength). When the Sun is quiet, the galactic background noise dominates at longer wavelengths. During geomagnetic storms, the Sun will dominate even at these low frequencies.

Oscillation of electrons trapped in the magnetosphere of Jupiter produce strong radio signals, particularly bright in the decimeter band.

The magnetosphere of Jupiter is responsible for intense episodes of radio emission from the planet's polar regions. Volcanic activity on Jupiter's moon Io injects gas into Jupiter's magnetosphere, producing a torus of particles about the planet. As Io moves through this torus, the interaction generates Alfvén waves that carry ionized matter into the polar regions of Jupiter. As a result, radio waves are generated through a cyclotron maser mechanism, and the energy is transmitted out along a cone-shaped surface. When Earth intersects this cone, the radio emissions from Jupiter can exceed the solar radio output.

The galactic center of the Milky Way was the first radio source to be detected. It contains a number of radio sources, including Sagittarius A* and the supermassive black hole at its center.

This page was last edited on 1 December 2017, at 19:12.
Reference: under CC BY-SA license.

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