Radio Astronomy is the study of radio waves emitted by astronomical objects such as galaxies, stars, star-forming regions, gas clouds, supernova remnants, pulsars and quasars. The high sensitivity of the Arecibo radio telescope allows astronomers to detect faint radio emissions from far-off regions of the universe. Information from these measurements allows us to determine the distances and masses of galaxies and how they form clusters, find mysterious alignments between gas streams and magnetic fields in the Milky Way, uncover “dark gas” in star forming regions, and discover new and as-yet unexplained phenomena such as fast radio bursts.
Pulsar astronomy forms a large part of the work of the Arecibo telescope. Radio pulses from rotating neutron stars (pulsars) provide an insight into the physics of these fascinating objects. The second fastest known pulsar – the first millisecond pulsar to be found – was discovered at Arecibo, as were the first exoplanets, which were found orbiting a pulsar. The 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to Russell Hulse and Joseph Taylor for their work with Arecibo in monitoring a binary pulsar, providing a strict test of Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity and the first evidence for the existence of gravitational waves. Today, pulsars are being used to directly search for gravitational waves through incredibly accurate timing with the Arecibo telescope.

Science Group

The Radio Astronomy Group at Arecibo consists of scientists who are not only users of the telescope but who use their expertise to help other users to plan and carry out their observations. Arecibo is an “open skies” facility, meaning it is not used only by our own staff but by scientists from all over the world. Observing time is assigned between competing proposals on the basis of evaluation of their scientific value by external referees. The Radio Astronomy Group makes sure that all users have access to the expert knowledge needed to make the best use of their observing time.

Recent News

Pulsar Watchers Close In On Galaxy Merger History

NASA Merging Galaxies
Pulsar Astronomy Feb 28, 2018

For the past twelve years, a group of astronomers have been watching the sky carefully, timing pulses of radio waves being emitted by rapidly spinning stars called pulsars, first discovered 50 years ago. These astronomers are interested in understanding pulsars, but their true goal is much more profound; the detection of a new kind of gravitational waves. With a new, more sophisticated analysis, they are much closer than ever before. Read More

Astronomers peer into the lair of a mysterious source of cosmic radio bursts

Pulsar Astronomy Jan 10, 2018

Using the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico and the Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia, a team from Universities Space Research Association (USRA) and other institutions today announced today at the American Astronomical Society’s winterAAS meeting that mysterious bursts of radio emission, called Fast Radio Bursts (FRB), may be coming from near a giant black hole. Read More

Why are Quasars so Bright?  JULY 18, 2017

The Mystery of Part Time Pulsars  JULY 18, 2017

Gaia Weighs in on the Pleiades Distance Controversy  Jan 27, 2017

Arecibo Puts Limits on Gravitational Wave Models   Jan 20, 2017


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Astronomy Group

Dr. Robert Minchin

Dr. Robert Minchin

Astronomy Group Lead
Tapasi Gosh

Dr. Tapasi Ghosh

Sr. Research Assoc.
Kristen Jones

Dr. Kristen Jones

Postdoctoral Associate
Chris Salter

Dr. Chris Salter

Sr. Research Assoc.
Dr. Nipuni Palliyaguru

Dr. Nipuni Palliyaguru

Postdoctoral Scientist

Dr. Andrew Seymour

Astronomer Emeritus

Dr. Bryan Murray Lewis

Astronomer Emeritus

Dr. Gerrit Verschuur

Astronomer Emeritus