Online / 6 & 7 February 2021

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Virgo: A Versatile Spectrometer for Radio Astronomy


For the past few decades, radio astronomy has been a rapidly developing area of observational astronomy. This is due to the fact that a variety of celestial objects emit electromagnetic radiation at radio wavelengths, which has led to the development of radio telescopes capable of revealing the otherwise-hidden astrophysical properties of the universe. An important requirement that makes radio astronomy observations and analysis possible is an appropriate software pipeline compatible with the spectrometers with which radio observatories are equipped. In this work, we present Virgo: a versatile software solution for radio telescopes.

Virgo is an easy-to-use open-source spectrometer and radiometer based on Python and GNU Radio (GR) that is conveniently applicable to any radio telescope working with a GR-supported software-defined radio (SDR). In addition to data acquisition, Virgo also carries out automated analysis of the recorded samples, producing an averaged spectrum, a calibrated spectrum, a dynamic spectrum (waterfall), a time series (power vs time) and a total power distribution plot.

By additionally providing the observer with an important set of utilities, Virgo also makes for a great tool for planning (radio) observations. This includes the ability to compute the position of astronomical sources in the sky for a given date, estimate the right ascension and declination given the observer's coordinates along with the altitude and azimuth the telescope is pointing to and convert equatorial to galactic coordinates with the help of the open-source Astropy package.

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Photo of Apostolos Spanakis-Misirlis Apostolos Spanakis-Misirlis

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