Pulsar Astronomy and Physics at the Arecibo Observatory with Dr. Joanna Rankin

Pulsars



Pulsars Pulsar Astronomy and Physics at the Arecibo Observatory with Dr. Joanna Rankin

In January, Dr. Joanna Rankin, Professor Emerita of the Department of Physics at the University of Vermont and longtime AO user, visited with science and management staff at the University of Central Florida (UCF) and the Florida Space Institute (FSI) for several days, followed by one month at the Arecibo Observatory.

Dr. Rankin has been using the Arecibo Observatory to study pulsars since she was a graduate student at AO in 1969, recently celebrating 50 years since her first AO observation. “I’ve watched the telescope change and go through two upgrades, and I’ve seen changes of management and changes of interest.”

“By and large, the telescope has continued to work over the decades, and that’s because of the extremely loyal staff, from the telescope operators to the electronics department who come in after hours and work extraordinarily hard,” Dr. Rankin affirmed. “The commitment here, to this great observatory, is amazing.”

“By and large, the telescope has continued to work over the decades, and that’s because of the extremely loyal staff, from the telescope operators to the electronics department who come in after hours and work extraordinarily hard… “ - Dr. Joanna Rankin, Professor Emerita of the Department of Physics at the University of Vermont

Mr. Ray Lugo, director of FSI, described Dr. Rankin’s visit as a testament to her own personal commitment to the success of the Arecibo Observatory. “Her interactions with staff and management are unique, and uniquely appreciated,” Mr. Lugo asserted. “We look forward to a long-term continuation of this relationship as we continue to rebuild and evolve the observatory to perform science that advances our understanding of the universe."

“We look forward to a long-term continuation of this relationship as we continue to rebuild and evolve the observatory to perform science that advances our understanding of the universe.” - Mr. Ray Lugo, Director of the Florida Space Institute

At FSI, Dr. Rankin gave a presentation titled Pulsar Astronomy and Physics at the Arecibo Observatory, providing details on why AO has “long been the best instrument anywhere for studying pulsars”, including its sensitivity and versatility. In fact, she explained that although she has used a number of other great radio telescope facilities for her research, she only uses them to study a pulsar if it is not within the AO field of view. “If a pulsar can be observed at the Arecibo Observatory, then that’s the place to observe it!”.

During her visit to the observatory, Dr. Rankin worked on a variety of instrument calibrations and scientific projects. In particular, she worked with AO Research Scientist Dr. Benetge Perera, investigating the stability of pulsar polarization measurements. They plan to continue working together, studying the emission properties of slow pulsars. “She is a longtime Arecibo user, and it is great to work closely with her on pulsar projects,” Dr. Perera conveyed.

Dr. Rankin stressed the importance of in-person visits to the observatory. She recounted her experiences staying on-site for weeks or months and learning about the diversity of on-going projects through conversations around the lunch table. She also emphasized the impact that visiting the telescope can have on students. “I’ve brought dozens of students to Arecibo with me over the years,” Dr. Rankin explained. “Many still talk about what a magnificent chance it was to come to AO and use the telescope. It is a life-changing experience for them.”

Dr. Rankin cited the upcoming Visiting Scientist program being implemented at AO as a great way to continue this important practice of on-site communication and collaboration. She also noted a number of upgrades and improvements to the facility during her stay.

“I am delighted to see that UCF is preparing to be the management organization for this place for a long time. It really seems there is a strong commitment to bring the telescope to its former well-maintained state and to further improve it.” She added, "I am definitely delighted to see that and I’m eager to help as I can!"

Dr. Noemí Pinilla Alonso, Science Manager of AO, shared that “the importance of having visits from AO users like Dr. Rankin is to reinforce the communication channels between everyone involved with the telescope. This is key for the observatory’s continued success,” she added. "We are all working towards the same goal of making the Arecibo Observatory even better every day for the current and the next generations."

"We are all working towards the same goal of making the Arecibo Observatory even better every day for the current and the next generations." - Dr. Noemí Pinilla Alonso, Science Manager of Arecibo Observatory


Article written by Dr. Tracy Becker - AO Collaborator / SwRI Research Scientist Contact: tbecker@swri.edu

Arecibo Media Contact
Ricardo Correa
Universidad Ana G. Mendez (UAGM)
787-878-2612 ext. 615
rcorrea@naic.edu

Science Manager
Dr. Noemi Pinilla
Arecibo Observatory
npinilla@naic.edu

Keywords: arecibo, observatory, Zhou, ohio, miami, Wright, Patterson, incoherent, scatter, radar, computer, engineering, airforce