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Vidi grant for Jason Hessels

Submitter: Tom Oosterloo
Description: Jason Hessels (ASTRON & UvA) has been awarded a "Vidi" grant of 800,000 Euros from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO). With this grant, Hessels will build a research team that will turn the LOFAR radio telescope into the world's premier high-speed radio camera.

Looking up on a starry night, it's easy to imagine that the Universe is unchanging. In reality, however, the Universe is teeming with activity: there are massive explosions from accreting black holes, bright radio flashes from ultra-magnetic pulsars, and likely other spectacles that have so far escaped our prying eyes. These fleeting events can happen faster than the blink of an eye and, importantly, they trace the most extreme astrophysical phenomena. Catching these rare performances poses a major challenge for observational astronomers, but the scientific payoff is well worth the effort.

Hessels and his new team will mould the Low-Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope into "DRAGNET:, the world's premier high-speed, wide-angle camera for radio astronomy. Radio waves are a unique and powerful way of investigating the most extreme astrophysical processes. Also, LOFAR is a unique radio telescope, which provides the exciting opportunity to monitor the heavens for rare, powerful explosions as never before possible. With his Vidi grant Hessels will search the sky for new pulsars (rapidly spinning, super-magnetic neutron stars) and will try to detect radio signals from the Universe's most extreme explosions: supernovae and gamma-ray bursts. Compared with previous radio telescopes, LOFAR can view a much larger fraction of the sky at once, which is critical for catching these rare events in the act.

Jason is a regular contributor to these Astron/Jive Daily Images, so you can expect to see many of the exciting results that will come out of this project advertised here.
Copyright: Astron
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