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The LOFAR Skyline

Submitter: Madroon E.J.
Description: If the grass were just a little shorter, you would be able to see the dense collection of LBA and HBA antennas on the LOFAR "Superterp", the heart of the largest telescope in the world. As it is, you just have to trust us that it's really there, quietly unlocking the secrets of the Universe.

This is the way the Dutch like to do things: Serving humanity with as little fuss as possible, while preserving our iconic skyline. That is why we use aperture arrays, which are less ostentatious than large, clumsy dish antennas, and easy to hide(*). Moreover, aperture arrays offer a broader, clearer, more versatile vision of the sky, and avoid tiresome diffraction effects. Best of all, they do not have any moving parts, which only cause more fuss, and are less green.

We are serenely confident that LOFAR will make many important discoveries. The latest images are already close to the thermal noise limit (which is like the grass that hides the telescope). This feat took us many years with earlier telescopes, and is still rare in the world. But we fervently hope that all the noisy acclaim, the hoopla, and the inevitable prizes, will be absorbed by our foreign users, who seem to crave that sort of thing.

(*) For this reason, the 25m dishes of the Dwingeloo and Westerbork telescopes were hidden in the woods, and painted in camouflage colors.
Copyright: MCC
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