10 years of LOFAR highlights: Gentle reenergization of electrons in merging galaxy clusters

Supermassive black holes can leave a trail of energetic particles that astronomers are able to detect using radio telescopes. Usually the radio emissions from these particles fade away and become invisible. However, in the merging galaxy cluster Abell 1033, the Low Frequency Array discovered that some of these particles can be rejuvenated and start shining again when observed at very low radio frequencies.

By Francesco de Gasperin &Tim Shimwell

Published by the editorial team, 6 June 2020

A composite (false-colour) image of the galaxy cluster Abell 1033. Optical light from individual galaxies, visible as coloured spots across the image, is obtained by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, while in blue the X-ray emission observed with the Chandra satellite traces the hot gas. Radio emission from LOFAR and the VLA is shown in orange and traces a complex of radio sources including a tail of particles left behind by the galaxy moving towards the left of the image.

 

On 12 June 2020, LOFAR celebrates its tenth anniversary. The radio telescope is the world’s largest low frequency instrument and is one of the pathfinders of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which is currently being developed. Throughout its ten years of operation, LOFAR has made some amazing discoveries. It has been a key part of groundbreaking research, both in astronomy and engineering. Here we feature some – but definitely not all – of these past highlights, with surely more to come in the future.

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