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ASTRON engineer promoted on system design LOFAR telescope

ASTRON engineer Jaap Bregman is defending his thesis ‘System Design and Wide-field Imaging Aspects of Synthesis Arrays with Phased Array Stations’ on Friday 14 December at the University of Groningen. Bregman has laid the foundation of a new generation of radio telescopes with his system design for the LOFAR telescope, which was designed and built by ASTRON and opened by Queen Beatrix in 2010. With his thesis he ends his career of forty years at ASTRON as one of the technical fathers of the LOFAR telescope.

Published by the editorial team, 12 December 2012

By using telescopes that exist of a large number of antennas, such as the LOFAR telescope, astronomers can research multiple parts of the sky at once. A big advantage of this type of telescopes, over traditional parabolic dishes, is the fact that they are much cheaper in production. Connecting large numbers of antennas used to be too expensive but since the recent emergence of micro electronics, this came within reach.

Telescopes with thousands of antennas are much complexer than traditional telescopes and demand smart mathematical methods to be able to make good maps of the sky. In his thesis Bregman combined known design principles with a vision on the technological possibilities that are within reach in the near future. The main question here is how scientific users with a given budget can reach an optimal result.

Prof. George Miley (University of Leiden): ‘Without creative engineers like Jaap Bregman, the wonderful science produced by the new generation of sophisticated high-tech telescopes could not have been done. Jaap’s contribution to ASTRON during the last forty years has been invaluable. His brilliant technical ideas made LOFAR into the revolutionary ICT telescope that is now admired all over the world.’

Bregmands work is crucial for the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) telescope, an internationaal project in which ASTRON plays one of the leading roles, scientifically and technologically. The SKA will exist of thousands of receivers that are connected to each other, spread over an area as bis as a continent. This telescope is an order of magnitude bigger than LOFAR and can map the sky much faster. Also because of the development of LOFAR does Dutch astronomy have a strong position in the international SKA programme.

Bregman (Amsterdam, 1946) studied applied phyiscs in Delft. His thesis was done at ASTRON and at the Kapteyn Institute of the RUG.

For more information, please contact:

Drs. Femke Boekhorst, PR & Communicatie, ASTRON. Tel.: +31 521 595 204. E-mail:

Image: the LOFAR superterp with six LOFAR stations on it. Credits: Top-Foto, Assen.

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