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ERC Advanced Grant for research into the origin of fast radio bursts from space

Jason Hessels, Professor of Observational High-Energy Astrophysics at the University of Amsterdam and Chief Astronomer at ASTRON, has been awarded a €3.5 million ERC Advanced Grant to search for the origin of fast radio bursts. Among other things, the research money will be used to develop new hardware to set up a coordinated network of European radio telescopes to study repeating FRBs in more detail.

Animation explaining the workings of LOFAR

We have created an animation, which briefly explains the workings of our LOFAR radio telescope.

NAC 2023 to be held in Leeuwarden in May

The 78th edition of the Nederlandse Astronomen Conferentie (NAC) will be held this year in the Westcord WTC hotel in Leeuwarden from 15 to 17 May.

ASTRON astronomy groups focus on LOFAR and SKA

Recently, the astronomy group within the A&O department of ASTRON went through a reformation: instead of several focus groups, it now consists of two groups: the LOFAR Science Group and the SKA Science Group. The LOFAR Science Group is led by André Offringa, the SKA Science Group by Joe Callingham.

Major upgrade of International LOFAR Telescope approved

The ILT Board has approved the order for the LOFAR2.0 upgrade of all 52 stations plus 2 additional stations of the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT), plus spare parts. A total of € 10 million investment goes to orders at the Dutch companies Neways, Major Electronics, Variass, and Batenburg Industriële Elektronica.

Michiel Brentjens wins Teacher of the Year 2022 award

Michiel Brentjens has won the award for Teacher of the Year 2022 at Leiden University.


Mon 15 May 2023 - Wed 17 May 2023

Nederlandse Astronomen Conferentie 2023

The 78th Dutch Astronomers' Conference (“Nederlandse Astronomenconferentie”) will be organized by ASTRON the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy under the auspices of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Astronomenclub/Royal Netherlands Astronomical Society (KNA/RNAS) from 15 to 17 May 2023. The conference venue is the WestCord WTC hotel in Leeuwarden.

Mon 03 Apr 2023 - Thu 06 Apr 2023

Applied RF technology course

The RF course is an excellent introduction for Digital / Analog engineers who are or will be involved in the development of RF systems.

Daily Image

ERC Advanced Grant for Jason Hessels - EuroFlash: exploring the origins of fast radio bursts using a network of European radio telescopes

© Futselaar / Hessels / ASTRON

Fast radio bursts (FRBs) present astronomers with a compelling mystery: what is creating these brilliant but ephemeral flashes that travel billions of lightyears before reaching Earth? Whatever is producing the FRBs, it requires an extreme energy density and the conditions for `laser-like’ coherent radio emission to be generated. While recent discoveries show that magnetars are a leading contender, the heterogeneous properties of the known FRB sample strongly suggest that there are multiple FRB source types. If so, then we have multiple mysterious FRB origins to uncover.

Due to the great interest in solving this puzzle, enormous progress has been made in recent years. There are now hundreds of known FRB sources, dozens of which repeat, and some of which have been localised to their exact galactic neighbourhoods. The FRB sample continues to grow at a rapid pace of several new sources per day, thanks to new wide-field radio telescopes. Studying these sources with dedicated follow-up is challenging because they emit sporadically and are only visible for milliseconds or less. At the same time, by casting an even wider net we are likely to discover new types of FRB-like signals.

With EuroFlash, a recently awarded ERC Advanced grant, I will create a coordinated network of European radio telescopes operating over a broad range of radio frequencies, providing high sensitivity and observing cadence, and achieving the best-possible localisations. I will use this network to perform a world-leading, systematic study of repeating FRBs, to understand their progenitor(s) and their relation to the apparently one-off FRB sources. I will also make a novel exploration of the parameter space of short-duration radio transients by exploiting the large field-of-view of LOFAR2.0 and commensal observations to find new sources. In doing so, I aim to discover new types of astrophysical phenomena that probe the extremes of the Universe.

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