The European Research Council (ERC) has awarded an Advanced Grant to prof. dr. Raffaella Morganti, head of the Astronomy Group at ASTRON and professor by special appointment on Structure and Evolution of Radio Galaxies at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen. Prof. Morganti will receive approximately 2.5 million euro for her research project ‘Exploiting new radio telescopes to understand the role of AGN in galaxy evolution'. This grant will permit her to employ PhD students, post-docs and a software engineer over a period of 5 years.

Published by the editorial team, 17 October 2012

Prof. Morganti's project is aimed at understanding what fraction of the time the central massive black hole of a galaxy is active at radio frequencies and what the impact of this phase is on the evolution of the host galaxy. The possibility of making a major breakthrough in this field comes from two new and revolutionary radio telescopes of ASTRON: LOFAR (the Low-Frequency Array) and the focal-plane array system Apertif, which is to be installed on the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT).

The ERC Advanced Grants are only awarded to exceptional scientists. The grant to prof. Morganti is the fifth ERC Advanced Grant that is awarded to a project related to the LOFAR telescope and/ or to Apertif. This is a clear demonstration of the excitement that exists in the astronomical community about the scientific potential of these instruments, and about the people involved with them.

An example of a radio source (3C293 in orange) known to have recently restarted its activity from the central massive black hole. This activity has a major impact on the gas and on the evolution of the host galaxy (in grey). The inset shows the signature of this, with gas being ejected from the galaxy at velocities which exceed 1000 km/s. These results were obtained from observations done with the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope. The project aims, using both LOFAR and Apertif, to investigate how common this kind of phenomena is and what role plays in the evolution of galaxy. Credits: R. Morganti, ASTRON.

For more information please contact:

Femke Boekhorst, PR & Communication. E-mail: boekhorst@astron.nl. Phone: 0521 595 204 en 06 21 23 42 43.

About the Advanced ERC Grants

ERC Advanced Grants allow exceptional established research leaders of any nationality and any age to pursue ground-breaking, high-risk projects that open new directions in their respective research fields or other domains. The ERC Advanced Grant funding targets researchers who have already established themselves as independent research leaders in their own right. TheERC Advanced Grant is a grant for five years and can go up to 3.5 million euro.
More information about the ERC Advanced Grant: http://erc.europa.eu/advanced-grants.

About LOFAR and Apertif

The LOFAR telescope exists of thousands of simple, small antennas that are combined with powerful digital signal processing high-performance computer facilities. The telescope can observe large parts of the sky and look in different directions simultaneously on relatively low and unexplored frequencies. This opens up an entirely new window to the Universe for astronomers. The LOFAR telescope is located in the North of the Netherlands and in four other European countries.

Apertif, an innovatie of ASTRON, can observe large parts of the sky searching for signals of neutral hydrogen from galaxies in the nearby Universe. Because Apertif expands the field of view of the Westerbork telescope by a factor 30, astronomers get access to data of thousands of galaxies instead of a few hundred.

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