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Interstellar scintillation – near and far

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Interstellar (ISS) causes variation in flux density at radio wavelengths of compact radio sources on time scales from minutes to weeks to years, which must be distinguished from intrinsic variability. ISS of pulsars is a nuisance but has allowed us to probe the turbulent interstellar plasma in our galaxy. Far away bright sources such as compact AGN jets also suffer from ISS , which is seen as intraday variability at cm wavelengths and probes their angular structure down to 10 micro-arcsec. Their ISS is observed to decrease for sources beyond z=2, which is consistent with cosmological expansion and emission from peak brightness temperatures near 1E11K. ISS studies of pulsars have discovered localised condensations of plasma, whose origin remains a mystery. I will outline a possible explanation in terms of reflection rather than refraction in the interstellar plasma.

This talk is part of the Cavendish Astrophysics Seminars series.

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