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LOFAR ERIC: Distributed Research Infrastructure for European Astronomical Research Launched

LOFAR ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) has been officially launched at its first Council meeting today. The world-leading LOFAR (LOw Frequency ARray) Distributed Research Infrastructure has already revolutionised low-frequency radio astronomy research, resulting in an avalanche of scientific publications in the past decade. LOFAR ERIC is now a single legal entity across the European Union. The LOFAR ERIC statutory seat is in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands, hosted by NWO-I/ASTRON (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy; the original designer of LOFAR).

Published by the editorial team, 22 January 2024

LOFAR ERIC will implement a substantial upgrade across the distributed infrastructure, and serve the astronomy community with a cutting-edge suite of observing and data processing capabilities, rooted in its vast field of view on sky, unprecedented sensitivity and image resolution, and novel capabilities to observe in multiple directions all at once. Further development paths for the longer term are under study.

LOFAR ERIC, set up with a long-term perspective, will provide transparent access to a wide range of science research services for the European and global community, fostering collaborations, and empowering researchers to pursue large-scale innovative projects across scientific domains, including the properties of the distant young universe, the formation and evolution of galaxies, the physics of pulsars and transient radio phenomena, the nature of ultra-high energy cosmic particles, the conditions in the interstellar medium, and the structure of cosmic magnetic fields. Furthermore, LOFAR ERIC contributes unique scientific insights into diverse topics with societal relevance, such as lightning, ionospheric disturbances, and Space Weather. LOFAR ERIC will facilitate access through its user-friendly publicly open archive for multiple use of its extensive science data products.

LOFAR ERIC’s Founding Members are Bulgaria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, and Poland. Collaborations with institutes in France, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom secure further participation in the LOFAR distributed infrastructure and research programme. The LOFAR ERIC statutory seat is in Dwingeloo, the Netherlands, hosted by NWO-I/ASTRON (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy; the original designer of LOFAR).

Dutch Minister of Education, Culture and Science Robbert Dijkgraaf is proud that the Netherlands is hosting LOFAR ERIC: “What started years ago as a primarily Dutch facility has grown into a full-fledged distributed research infrastructure with antenna stations across Europe. This powerhouse in the European research landscape will foster new research collaborations across Europe. New and exciting discoveries about the origin and composition of our universe will be made. I’m really looking forward to it.”

“The establishment of LOFAR ERIC consolidates world-leading excellence for Europe in an important research field,” said Dr. René Vermeulen, founding director of LOFAR ERIC. “With its unrivalled distributed research infrastructure and its robust pan-European partnership, LOFAR ERIC enters the European Research Area as a powerhouse at the cutting edge of astronomy science and technology, with the potential to contribute to broader complex challenges.”



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