Astron builds radio telescope to signal solar bursts in real time

Jan

31

2019

Astron, the Dutch institute for radio astronomy based in Drenthe, is starting the construction of a solar radio telescope together with the Delft company Science & Technology. The telescope should monitor solar bursts in real time that could disturb systems on Earth.

Astron reports that Wednesday the first phase of the so-called Disturb project has started, in which the design of the radio telescope is being developed. If this is expected to be completed once for fifteen months, a follow-up project will follow in which a first prototype will be built to scale. After that the plan is to be scaled up, so that there will be twelve to twenty different stations spread all over the world. Thus, there must be a global coverage for the detection of solar flares.

The new telescope is based on, among other things, the model of the antennae, including the existing Lofar radio telescope and the Square Kilometer Array to be built . At the moment the new solar radio telescope detects a serious eruption, Lofar is supposed to react by, among other things, generating radio photos and other data and, for example, passing this on to the Ministry of Defense. The ministry therefore knows that a disruption of their systems can be expected.

Both the Dutch Ministry of Defense and the KNMI are part of the project and want to use the data from the new radio telescope to warn both military and civil users of antenna communication and navigation systems. They can be seriously affected by solar eruptions. Astron, for example, mentions a case from 2015, in which an eruption blinded a radar at the Swedish Malmö airport as it were. The result was that air traffic was seriously disrupted.

According to Astron, there are no comparable instruments that can do the same as the new solar radio telescope. The systems that are used for detecting solar bursts are, according to the institute of lower quality, work with a considerable delay or produce data that are not made public. The new telescope makes the measurements of extreme eruptions freely accessible.

Astron solar radio telescope

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