News & Events

Jodrell Bank Gets Grant to Observe the Big Bang

13 May 1999

Jodrell Bank, part of the Department of Physics and Astromomy, has been awarded a grant by PPARC for nearly 0.5M pounds to operate the Very Small Array (VSA) Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) telescope jointly with Cambridge University. This award follows the capital grant from PPARC made in 1996 for the construction of the telescope, which was for 2.6M pounds, some 1.1M pounds of which came to Manchester.

The VSA is a radio telescope system to be installed on Mt Teide, Tenerife later this year. The telescope consists of 14 antennas with cryogenically cooled state-of-the-art low noise receivers built at Jodrell Bank, vital to achieving the extreme sensitivity required. The amplifiers, developed jointly with the National Radio Astronomy Observatory in the USA, are the lowest noise amplifiers ever achieved at this frequency. The system will operate over a bandwidth centred on a wavelength of 1 cm, a frequency of 30 GHz, to allow subtraction of extraneous foreground emissions from our Galaxy.

The CMB provides us with a snapshot of the Universe as it was just 300,000 years after the Big Bang. The VSA, which builds on the success of earlier Manchester studies on Tenerife, will allow us to make high sensitivity maps of the CMB covering about 1/100 of the sky. The resolution is designed to allow us to investigate structure on angular scales from 2.5 degrees to 10 arcminutes, where the maximum information about the early Universe is to be found. Two-dimensional mapping of real features in the CMB radiation will be important in determining the overall topology of the Universe enabling us to set contraints on the age and the size of the Universe, and predict how it will evolve in the future.

For Futher Information Contact:

Dr Richard Davis, University of Manchester, Jodrell Bank.
Phone: +44-1477- 571321
Fax: +44-1477- 571618