Calibration of low-frequency radio telescopes using the galactic background radiation
NRS-URA 264, Département de Recherche Spatiale, Observatoire de Paris, 92195 Meudon, France
2 Department of Physics, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tas 7001, Australia
Corresponding author: G. A. Dulk, email@example.com
Accepted: 28 September 2000
We consider the calibration of flux densities of radio bursts from decametric to kilometric wavelengths using ground-based and space-based data. The method we derive is applicable to low-frequency radio telescopes where galactic background radiation is the principal contribution to system temperature. It can be particularly useful for telescopes of low angular resolution observing spectra of radio bursts from the Sun and the planets because absolute calibration of these telescopes is very difficult with conventional techniques. Here we apply the method to observations from about 7 to 47 MHz that were made on the ground with the Bruny Island Radio Spectrometer located in Tasmania, Australia, and those from about 20 kHz to 13.8 MHz were made with the radio experiment WAVES on the WIND spacecraft. The spectrum of the galactic background radiation from to MHz has been carefully measured with low-resolution telescopes, starting more than a decade ago. We use this known spectrum to calibrate both BIRS and WAVES on an absolute scale. The accuracy we achieve is about a factor of two, whereas the flux densities of solar and planetary radio sources vary by many orders of magnitude. Our method permits inter-calibration of ground-based and space-based observations, and allows corrections to be made for instrumental uncertainties on both radio experiments. In addition, on the ground, it allows the spectra to be corrected for ionospheric absorption and partial ground reflections. As an application we show the spectrum of a solar type III burst observed from 47 MHz to 20 kHz. Its flux density was largest, W m-2 Hz-1, at about 3 MHz, while at 60 kHz and at 47 MHz it was lower by a factor of about 300.
Key words: radio telescopes -calibration -galactic background radiation -solar type III bursts
© ESO, 2001