Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Radio Astronomy and Radio Telescopes, History of

  • Stéphane Le GarsEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_729


During the second half of the nineteenth century, the electromagnetic theories of James Clerk Maxwell (1831–1879) and the experiments of Heinrich Hertz (1857–1894) permitted scientists to consider the possibility of an emission of radio waves by the stars or the Sun. According to the German physicist Hermann Ebert (1861–1913) in 1892, the observation of electric discharges in vacuum tubes were conducted to investigate the possible existence of Hertzian (radio) waves emitted by the Sun. Admitting the validity of Maxwell’s theory, the French physicist Charles Nordmann (1881–1940) was convinced that high-altitude observations might succeed in detecting those solar radio waves. But despite using a 175-m antenna placed almost at the top of Mont Blanc, he detected no waves because of a lack of sensitivity.

The detection of “cosmic static”, i.e., radio waves of extraterrestrial origin, was made for the first time by the American radio engineer Karl Guthe Jansky (1905–1950) in 1932....


Atacama Large Array Millimeter (ALMA) Cosmic background radiation Interstellar chemistry Interstellar medium Molecules in space Radio astronomy Radio telescope Very large base interferometry 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Encrenaz P (1971) Les molecules interstellaire. J Phys Colloque (Supplement 10) 32(C5):C5a-143Google Scholar
  2. Grote R (1988) A play entitled The beginning of radio astronomy. J R Astron Soc Can 82(3):93–106Google Scholar
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  4. Mulkay MJ, Edge DO (1976) Cognitive, technical and social factors in the growth of radio astronomy. In: Gerard L, MacLeod R, Mulkay M, Weingart P, Mouton & Co (eds) Perspectives on the emergence of scientific disciplines. The Hague and Maison des Sciences de l’Homme, Paris. Aldine, Chicago, pp 153–186Google Scholar
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  12. Wielebinski R (2004) The history of radio continuum surbeys. In: Uyaniker B, Reich W, Wielebinski R (eds) The magnetized interstellar medium, proceedings of the conference, held in Antalya, Turkey Copernicus GmbH, Katlenburg-Lindau, 8–12 Sept 2003, pp 241–244Google Scholar
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Centre François VièteUniversité de NantesNantesFrance