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Interplanetary Scintillation

Interplanetary Scintillation

Interplanetary Scintillation (IPS) is the radio counterpart of optical twinkling of stars. As the plane wavefront from a distant compact radio source traverses the density fluctuations in the solar wind, it picks up phase corrugations. By the time they reach the earth based observer, these phase corrugations develop into an interference pattern. The motion of the solar wind sweeps this interference pattern past the observing telescope giving rise to intensity fluctuations, which are referred to as Interplanetary Scintillations. The cartoon illustrates the origin of the phenomenon of IPS.



In the weak scattering regime, the power spectrum of the intensity fluctuations can be modeled in terms of the velocity, the strength of scattering and a few other physical properties of the solar wind though which the radiation has traveled.  The MWA-LFD will simultaneously monitor a large number of IPS sources day after day for entire solar rotations. Given enough good signal to noise observations, these measurements can be used to constraint the distribution of the solar wind properties in the entire inner heliosphere. This technique is already in use at the Solar Terrestrial Laboratory (STELab) in Japan, using analysis techniques developed at STELab and Univ. of California San Diego, and the Ooty Radio Telescope in India. The MWA-LFD seeks to improve the returns from this technique in a very significant manner by exploiting it's multiple beams and higher signal to noise data.

 

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