Radio Astronomy: Observing The Radio Sky, with Special Guest Dr. Matt Lister

May 14, 2013

John P. Millis, PhD for – Your Universe Online

The term ‘astronomy’ usually brings to mind images of big optical instruments, like the famous Hubble Space Telescope. But the field of astronomy extends far beyond simply looking at the narrow optical band of the electromagnetic spectrum. In fact, most of the Universe appears at wavelengths that we simply cannot see with our eyes or with optical equipment.

In today’s podcast we talk with Dr. Matt Lister, professor of physics and astronomy at Purdue University, about the history and science of radio astronomy. We discuss topics such as how this fascinating branch of astrophysics is carried out as well as some of the major facilities around the world.

We also address perhaps the simplest question of all: Why do we need to study radio astronomy in the first place, and how can it contribute to our understanding of the Universe?


Prof. Matthew Lister obtained his B.Sc. and M.Sc. degrees in physics at the University of Toronto and University of Victoria, Canada, with a specialization in astrophysics.  After completing his Ph.D. studies in astronomy at Boston University, he joined the U.S. Space VLBI project as a Caltech postdoctoral fellow at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. There he played a lead role in carrying out the first complete survey of extragalactic jets done with the U.S.-Japanese space-ground VSOP radio interferometer array. While a Karl Jansky Fellow at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, he became principal investigator of the MOJAVE project, a large program to study the structure and evolution of highly relativistic jetted outflows using several NASA satellites and the Very Long Baseline Array. Matthew joined the faculty of Purdue University in 2003 and is currently an associate professor in the Physics department.