The Synthesis Telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory (DRAO), operated by the National Research Council Canada (NRC), is currently accepting proposals for telescope time. Proposal deadlines occur twice annually, at the equinoxes, with a competitive, externally peer-reviewed process awarding time based on scientific merit and technical justification. DRAO staff will provide support for the preparation of proposals and subsequent data processing, on request.
The DRAO Synthesis Telescope is an aperture-synthesis telescope comprising seven 9 m antennas distributed along a 600 m east-west baseline. Three antennas are movable, providing flexible configuration. The back-end systems offer full polarization capability in 4 adjacent 7.5 MHz bands near 1420 MHz, with simultaneous 408 MHz total intensity (single polarization) and 21 cm HI-line observing (256 channels over bands from 0.125 to 4 MHz, dual polarization). Spatial resolution at 1420 MHz is approximately 1 arcminute, and at 408 MHz it is approximately 3 arcminutes. For further technical details, see Landecker et al. 2000, "The Synthesis Telescope at the Dominion Radio Astrophysical Observatory", Astronomy & Astrophysics Supplements, 145, 509–524.
The Synthesis Telescope is commonly used for studies of the Galactic Interstellar Medium (ISM) (such as the Canadian Galactic Plane Survey; Taylor et al. 2003, Astronomical Journal, 125, 3145-3164), but has also been used for everything from solar system to extra-galactic studies. Standard observations comprise twelve 12 hour runs in different configurations to achieve full aperture coverage from 13 to 600 m, yielding low sidelobes and good sensitivity to extended emission. Combined with its large field of view (nearly 2 degrees at 1420 MHz, and 6 degrees at 408 MHz), this makes it an excellent survey instrument. Of particular note is the wide-field polarization capability, with full correction of instrumental polarization across a 1.5 degree field at 1420 MHz.
Observations are typically done by grouping fields that can be observed contiguously, and moving antennas every 4 days. Thus it generally takes 48 elapsed days to acquire all data for a single field. Other observing modes are possible on request. Observations are conducted by staff telescope operators, so it is not necessary to be present at DRAO during observing. Telescope operators also perform initial data editing and reduction operations. These data can be sent to observers for final reduction, but visiting DRAO is encouraged, especially for students.