Chris Christiansen and the Chris Cross

Orchiston, Wayne, and Mathewson, Don (2009) Chris Christiansen and the Chris Cross. Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, 12 (1). pp. 11-32.

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The Chris Cross was the world's first crossed-grating interferometer, and was the brainchild of one of Australia's foremost radio astronomers, W.N. (Chris) Christiansen, from the CSIRO's Division of Radiophysics in Sydney. Inspired by the innovative and highly-successful E-W and N-S solar grating arrays that he constructed at Potts Hill (Sydney) in the early 1950s, Christiansen sited the Chris Cross at the Division’s Fleurs field station near Sydney, and from 1957 to 1988 it provided two-dimensional maps of solar radio emission at 1423 MHz.

In 1960 an 18m parabolic antenna was installed adjacent to the Chris Cross array, and when used with the Chris Cross formed the Southern Hemisphere's first high-resolution compound interferometer. A survey of discrete radio sources was carried out with this radio telescope.

The Division of Radiophysics handed the Fleurs field station over to the School of Engineering at the University of Sydney in 1963, and Christiansen and his colleagues from the Department of Electrical Engineering proceeded to develop the Chris Cross into the Fleurs Synthesis Telescope (FST) by adding six stand-alone 13.7m parabolic antennas. The FST was used for detailed studies of large radio galaxies, supernova remnants and emission nebu-lae.

The FST was closed down in 1988, and antennas in the original Chris Cross array quickly began to deteriorate. A number of individual antennas in the central part of the array received a new lease of life in 1991 when they were refurbished by staff and students from the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of Western Sydney, but this only proved to be a temporary reprieve as even these aerials were bulldozed by the landowner in 2004, bringing to an untimely end one of the world's most remarkable radio telescopes.

Item ID: 9891
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1440-2807
Keywords: W.N. Christiansen; Chris Cross; cross-grating interferometer; Fleurs field station; 1420 MHz radio plages; Fleurs Compound Interferometer; Fleurs Synthesis Telescope
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Reproduced with permission from Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage.

Date Deposited: 08 Apr 2010 03:07
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