By Diane Fisher Miller

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The atmosphere absorbs most of the wavelengths shorter than ultraviolet, most of the wavelengths between infrared and microwaves, and most of the longest radio waves. That leaves only visible light, some ultraviolet and infrared, and short wave radio to penetrate the atmosphere and bring information about the universe to our Earth-bound eyes and instruments. The main frequency ranges allowed to pass through the atmosphere are referred to as the radio window and the optical window. The radio window is the range of frequencies from about 5 MHz to over 300 GHz (wavelengths of almost 100 m down to about 1 mm).

As the electron and ion accelerate toward one another, the electron emits electromagnetic energy. Again, the kinetic energy of the colliding atoms tends to separate them into electron and positive ion, making the process continue indefinitely. The gas will always have some proportion of neutral to ionized atoms. As the charged particles move around, they can generate local concentrations of positive or negative charge, which gives rise to electric and magnetic fields. These fields affect the motion of other charged particles far away.

Its upstream (closest to the sun) boundary (called the bowshock) varies from 50 to 100 Jupiter radii and envelopes Jupiter’s four large Galilean satellites. (Sixteen Jupiter satellites have been discovered; the Galilean satellites are by far the largest). The magnetosphere of a planet traps plasma, as magnetic lines of force catch protons and electrons carried on the solar wind and atoms that escape upward from the planet’s atmosphere. In the case of Jupiter, since the magnetosphere is so large, it also traps atoms from the surfaces of the satellites orbiting within it.

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Basics of Radio Astronomy for the Goldstone-Apple Valley Radio Telescope by Diane Fisher Miller


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