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Mapping the radio sky with an interferometric network of low-frequency radio receivers

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  • Mathematics
  • Physics


The structure of the 100 kHz radio sky is determined with two interferometric networks of 10 radio receivers which are distributed over local areas of ∼1 × 1 km2 and ∼10 × 10 km2. The radio waves arrive at individual receiver pairs with small time differences which are used to determine the arrival direction of the electromagnetic waves including both the bearing and the elevation angle. The results show that the major part of the 100 kHz radio wave energy comes from the horizon at bearings which are consistent with known locations of Long Range Navigation (LORAN) transmitters. Some part of the radio wave energy arrives from the sky at elevation angles which are consistent with the first and second sky hop waves of LORAN transmissions. A minor part of the 100 kHz radio wave energy comes from lightning discharges at distances up to ∼1000 km with bearings which are consistent with lightning locations reported by the arrival time difference (ATD) lightning detection network of the UK Met Office. The angular resolution for mapping the radio sky depends on the network geometry, the instrumental timing accuracy, and on the signal-to-noise ratio of the radio waves. The resulting angular resolution of the interferometric networks used in this study is ∼1° in bearing at zero elevation and several degrees in elevation. Key Points Novel interferometric network to detect atmospheric discharges is described Radio map of the 100 kHz radio sky is measured for the first time Sky hop waves arrive at elevation angles in excellent agreement with theory.

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