Radio telescopes use a parabolic dish to focus electromagnetic radiation, in the radio-frequency range of the electromagnetic spectrum, in a similar way to how an optical reflecting telescope uses a parabolic mirror to focus light. Since radio waves have much longer wavelengths than light waves, a radio telescope’s dish needs to be much larger than the mirror of an optical telescope in order to obtain images of comparable resolution. Radio telescopes are often built in arrays of many similar dishes that can be linked via interferometry to work together as a giant ‘synthetic aperture’, to further increase resolving power.
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