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ERC grant for ASTRON astronomer Jason Hessels

Dr. Jason Hessels (ASTRON/University of Amsterdam) has received a Starting Grant from the European Research Council (ERC). Such grants aim to support up-and-coming research leaders in establishing their first research group.

Published by the editorial team, 26 April 2013

Hessels will receive an ERC Starting Grant of 2 million Euros to build a powerful supercomputer that can detect, in real-time, extremely short but bright radio flashes from the Universe with the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) – designed and built by ASTRON. These radio flashes are signals produced by the most extreme objects in the Universe – for example ultra-dense neutron stars and radio pulsars. Such sources are rare laboratories that give scientists unique insight into natural laws, like those of gravity and particle physics.

Detecting these signals in real-time is a big computational challenge but very important because it can help precisely determine the location of the objects on the sky. Other telescopes observing at other frequencies can then be used quickly to get a better understanding of what’s happening. By using LOFAR’s enormous field-of-view, this will be the most powerful observing system in the world for detecting such signals.

Last month, Hessels also received an NWO-Vidi award of 0.8 million Euro to carry out complementary research with the LOFAR telescope. He will carry out this research at ASTRON and the University of Amsterdam.


Jason Hessels next to a prototype of a LOFAR antenna

For more information please contact:

Dr. Jason Hessels, ASTRON/UvA, astronomer. E-mail:

Femke Boekhorst, PR & Communication. Phone: +31 6 21 23 42 43. E-mail:



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