On 27 July 2017, the newly built Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) station in Ireland will be officially opened. This extends the largest radio telescope in the world, connecting to its central core of antennas in the north of the Netherlands, now forming a network of two thousand kilometres across. Astronomers can now study the history of the universe in even more detail. The station will be opened by the Irish Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan.

Published by the editorial team, 25 July 2017

The international LOFAR telescope (ILT) is a European network of radio antennas, connected by a high-speed fibre optic network. With the data of thousands of antennas together, now including the Irish antennas, powerful computers create a virtual dish with a diameter of two thousand kilometres. The telescope thus gets an even sharper and more sensitive vision.

More detail

Rene Vermeulen, Director of the ILT, is very excited about this new collaboration."Thanks to the new LOFAR station in Ireland, we can observe the universe in even more detail. For example, we can look more closely at objects near and far, from our Sun to black holes, magnetic fields, and the emergence of galaxies in the early Universe. These are important areas of research for astronomers in the Netherlands and other ILT partner countries."

The Irish LOFAR team is led by Professor Peter Gallagher (Trinity College Dublin), an expert on Solar astrophysics. Vermeulen: “Studying the Sun, including solar flares, is an important branch of astronomical research. In this and other areas Irish researchers bring important reinforcement to our partnership.”

Successful tests

LOFAR was designed and built by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Earlier this month, a team from ASTRON conducted the final delivery tests of the Irish station on the Birr castle estate. The antennas, which conduct measurements at the lowest frequencies that can be observed from the earth, perform according to specification. The fibre optic network has already been successfully connected to the supercomputer in the computing centre in Groningen, which combines the data of the thousands of antennas.

Dutch production

The assignment for the manufacture of all components for the Irish LOFAR station was carried out by AstroTec Holding BV, a subsidiary of ASTRON. The production of electronic components for the receivers, the antennas and LOFAR-specific signal processing equipment has been carried out almost entirely by companies in the North of the Netherlands.

Text: Iris Nijman

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On June 13-17, the LOFAR Family Meeting took place in Cologne. After two years LOFAR researchers could finally meet in person again. The meeting brings together LOFAR users and researchers to share new scientific results.
https://www.astron.nl/dailyimage/main.php?date=20220621

Our renewed ‘Melkwegpad’ (Milky Way Path) is finished! The new signs have texts in Dutch on the one side and in English on the other side. The signs concerning planets have a small, 3D printed model of that planet in their centre.
https://www.astron.nl/dailyimage/
#Melkwegpad @RTVDrenthe

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The background drawing shows how the subband correlator calculates the array correlation matrix. In the upper left the 4 UniBoard2s we used. The two ACM plots in the picture show that the phase differences of the visibilities vary from 0 to 360 degrees.

Daily image of the week: Testing with the Dwingeloo Test Station (DTS)
One of the key specifications of LOFAR2.0 is measuring using the low- and the highband antenna at the same time. For this measurement we used 9 lowband antenna and 3 HBA tiles.
https://www.astron.nl/dailyimage/main.php?date=20220607

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