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U.S. Scientists Bring Sub-GHz ‘First light’ to Jansky VLA

Scientists at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in conjunction with radio astronomers and engineers from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) in Socorro, N.M. have achieved "First Light" at frequencies below 1 GHz using the Jansky Very Large Array (JVLA). The research team developed a new, modern, wide-band receiver system for the JVLA covering 50 MHz to 500 MHz. The first five of the receivers were used to successfully map the radio sky at 337 MHz. Interferometric imaging using widely separated antennas is difficult because of the requirements for receiver sensitivity, stability and coherence.

"The use of over 100 megahertz of bandwidth in the first image is a dramatic illustration of the breakthrough to instantaneous wideband systems at frequencies below one gigahertz," said Dr. Namir Kassen, section head of the NRL Radio Astrophysics Section. "This represents a poorly explored part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is important for ionospheric and astrophysical research and to the Navy's mission for navigation and communications."

Another radio NRL astronomer, Dr. Tracy Clarke, also commented on the achievement.

"With the new greatly improved receivers and the demonstration that they work well with the JVLA, scientists are once again able to explore with greater veracity the low-frequency radio bands for high sensitivity astrophysics and high accuracy ionospheric research," said Clarke.