|The locations in the UK of the seven telescopes in the e-MERLIN array|
The e-MERLIN telescope array is now nearing completion. When fully functional it will provide an increase in observing sensivity by a factor of 30 and hence open up new scientific opportunities in studying the radio sky.
e-MERLIN is a unique astronomical facility which will provide radio imaging, spectroscopy and polarimetry with 10-150 milliarcsecond resolution and microJansky sensitivity at centimetre wavelengths. The fundamental infrastructure of seven radio telescopes distributed across England has been enhanced by the installation of a dedicated 210 Gb/s optical fibre network, new receivers, a powerful new correlator and new telescope electronics. The new system will be commissioned during 2009.
High resolution radio observations allow us to address some of the most important astrophysical themes identified in the STFC Science Roadmap and other international analyses of science priorities such as ASTRONET. In general, centimetre-wavelength observations give an unparalleled view of the most obscured parts of star-forming regions and galaxies as well as astrophysical phenomena which can only be easily detected in the radio band. The resolution of e-MERLIN is well matched to that of ALMA, JWST and ground-based adaptive optics telescopes. Crucially, e-MERLIN is the only radio instrument which can resolve and image kiloparsec-scale starforming regions in distant galaxies, ~10 AU stellar disks and jets in our Galaxy and sub-arcsecond gravitational lenses at centimetre wavelengths.
Latest Update (20th April) (Read the Jodrell news item): Over the last few days and weeks we have been installing the new e-MERLIN equipment at the Mk2 and Pickmere telescopes. In addition to the core team, almost everyone at Jodrell has been involved in one way or another and we have been working closely with colleagues at DRAO and NRAO.
Over the weekend we made a great deal of progress, including getting the first signals back from the telescopes and commissioning the correlator. We have now seen 512 MHz bandwidth at Jodrell from two telescopes (MERLIN could only do 15 MHz) and we can see spectral lines, such as methanol in star-forming regions, in the correlator output.
We are now working on combining the telescope signals and should see first fringes very soon. Updates will be posted here.
The e-MERLIN project is funded by the Science & Technology Facilities Council, North West Development Agency, University of Manchester, University of Cambridge and Liverpool John Moores University.