Radio frequency interference
Pulsars are some of the most amazing source of radio emission in the Universe and provide us with a unique tool with which to learn much more about the physical world around us as well as out in the cosmos.
Unfortunately though they are very weak sources of radio waves and we need the largest radio telescopes in the world, like the Lovell Telescope at Jodrell bank Observatory to study them.
Although it is still in the premier league of radio telescopes around the world, the influence of interfering signals mean that there are already limitations to the science that we can undertake. An example is that we cannot undertake sensitive searches for new pulsars. However we can presently undertake high quality follow up studies which reveal significant information about these wonderful sources.
A recent example is the discovery that a pulsar has a diamond-like planet for a companion. This was revealed through sensitive observations made with the Lovell Telescope. As indicated in the screen grabs below this obtained world-wide press attention in newspapers and on radio and television as well as the internet.
Unfortunately the Lovell telescope already operates in a regime where there is significant distortion of the signal due to the presence of interference. Such amazing scientific return is only possible with the combination of the Lovell Telescope and sophisticated hardware and software. However we are approaching the limit where observations of this type will no longer be possible if there is an increase in the amount of radio frequency interference in the vicinity of the Lovell Telescope. We would lose a world class scientific instrument. Jodrell Bank Observatory