Science


The Science Team is investigating what we can actually observe with XRT-Station. We are currently focusing on the 21 cm hydrogen line. By observing this radiation we can probe the structure and motion of the Milky Way, and eventually estimate the mass of the galaxy! This involves a detailed understanding of both the science behind the observations and the technical aspects of measuring this radiation.

Team Leader

Sam Morrell (2nd Year Astrophysics Postgraduate) – smorrell at astro.ex.ac.uk

Team members

Micheal Jones
Eve Nebbiolo
Ben Sutlieff
Manraaj Matharoo
Ian Isted

Bodmin Moor Receives Dark Sky Landscape Designation


23 July 2017

We have some very exciting news! It was officially announced on the 6th July that the International Dark Sky Association have awarded Bodmin Moor in Cornwall International Dark Sky Landscape Status. It’s thanks to over a year’s worth of campaigning, sky brightness testing and paperwork on the part of the local observatories and Cornwall County…READ MORE

First Light!


01 July 2017

We discussed in this post how we wired up the entire signal chain to the 2.5m dish at the University of Exeter and took our first observation. In this plot we could make out the several features of the Milky Way galaxy traced out in HI emission. This post was cheekily titled “First Light… Kind…READ MORE

Build day 7 – completing the dish


29 June 2016

In Build days 5 and 6 the XRT-C team constructed the bulk of dish. Despite an entire weekend’s worth of hard graft the dish was unable to be completed and therefore it became necessary to send a subsequent team to the site to complete the job before the winter closed in for good. On a…READ MORE

Wind Loading Calculations with a Radio Telescope


20 March 2016

The dish has spent its first winter down at the site and, despite the fact that its not attached to anything, the issue of wind loading has recently come to the forefront of our team meetings. For those not in the know, wind loading is the force imposed on the dish by wind that may…READ MORE

Wiring the Rotor – Part 1


25 February 2016

In our previous post, we discussed our progress with deciding on a theoretically sound signal chain. Before we cain finally achieve first light on this project, there is one more major electronics issue that needs to be tackled. This problem, although far less important than actually getting signal from the feed horn, could be far…READ MORE

Optimising the Signal Chain


31 December 2015

On the afternoon of the 2nd December 2015, Sammy Colburn, a member of the XRT-C science team, and I met up in the lab with one goal in mind: to figure out the optimal arrangement of amplifiers and filters for the signal chain from the dish to the receiver. This is a delicate process that really can…READ MORE

First Light… Kind Of


16 October 2015

Last Thursday, the newly formed science team for the 2015-2016 academic year met in the third year project lab at the University of Exeter to conduct the first proper test of the receiving equipment of the telescope. To test, Dr. Chris Brunt allowed us to use the 3m mesh dish on roof; similar in design to…READ MORE

Computerising XRT-C


18 August 2015

Up until this point, we’ve focused a lot on the engineering and electronics of the telescope. That part of the development process is thankfully thriving. However, we’ve not taken a lot of time to look at the final component of the pipeline; the computer. The plan from the start has been to computerise the telescope….READ MORE

Telescope Electronics


09 June 2015

Purchasing the primary components of Radio Telescope was always going to be the easier part of the project. Connecting them and getting them talking together is an all-together trickier task. Quickly it became apparent that we were dealing with different types of wire connectors. Research each of our various components on the source website –…READ MORE

PC and software


30 April 2015

We recently took delivery of the telescope PC. The end result is for this PC to be housed in the telescope control room but for the time being it will be set up at the University of Exeter for installation and testing. This is a relatively simple machine as the Spectracyber and dish positioning software…READ MORE

Telescope components have arrived!


30 April 2015

Following months of hard work by procurement and finance teams, the all important components for the telescope are starting to arrive and stack up on the spare desk in my office. Following the arrival and delivery of the dish to Caradon, we took delivery of the support and motor mechanism. These were bought from RF…READ MORE

Observing the Solar Eclipse


23 March 2015

Astronomy madness swept the nation last Thursday due to the last solar eclipse visible from the UK until 2026. Our previous head of Outreach and PR, Hannah Wakeford, hosted a special episode of the Science Hour on Xpression FM and organised an amazing viewing event to celebrate the occasion. We couldn’t resist going along. For anyone…READ MORE