The microarcsecond sky and cosmic turbulence
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Radio waves are imprinted with propagation effects from ionized media through which they pass. Owing to electron density fluctuations, compact sources (pulsars, masers, and compact extragalactic sources) can display a wide variety of scattering effects. These scattering effects, particularly interstellar scintillation, can be exploited to provide superresolution, with achievable angular resolutions ([1 las) far in excess of what can be obtained by very long baseline interferometry on terrestrial baselines. Scattering effects also provide a powerful sub-AU probe of the microphysics of the interstellar medium, potentially to spatial scales smaller than 100 km, as well as a tracer of the Galactic distribution of energy input into the interstellar medium through a variety of integrated measures. Coupled with future c-ray observations, SKA observations also may provide a means of detecting fainter compact c-ray sources. Though it is not yet clear that propagation effects due to the intergalactic medium are significant, the SKA will either detect or place stringent constraints on intergalactic scattering.
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