University of Richmond Astrophysicist Jack Singal Awarded Nearly 600K NSF Grant for Groundbreaking Radio Sky Astronomy Project

Funding Will Support First-Of-Its-Kind Radio Sky Brightness Mapping Research
July 31, 2023

Pictured above: Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia; photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

Jack SingalUNIVERSITY OF RICHMOND ─ Jack Singal, a physics professor at the University of Richmond, has received a $589,939 grant from the National Science Foundation for a research project that will result in a new map focused on the sky brightness in radio waves.

The map will be the first large-scale measurement of the actual absolute brightness level of diffuse radio emission in more than 40 years, rather than a comparison of brightness in different regions of the sky as has been typical. Astronomers study radio waves, along with all of the other kinds of light, to better understand the Universe.

Singal and his research partner, Richard Bradley of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, will utilize the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia — the world’s largest steerable, clear-aperture telescope — along with custom instrumentation they are developing. The result will be an absolutely calibrated map of the diffuse radio emission over nearly the entire sky.

“This project will use the defining features of the Green Bank Telescope which is unique in the world, along with our custom radio receiver and feed antenna, so it is a beautiful marriage of big facility and small-group research,” said Singal.  

The radio sky brightness map is anticipated to be a transformative tool for investigating Galactic and extragalactic phenomena that depend on an understanding of diffuse radio emission. It will aid in a wide array of future astrophysics investigations and have future applications in projects rooted in radio astronomy.