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Westerbork Telescope participates in marathon observation

Published: Fri, 16/01/2009
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Radio telescopes around the world will conduct a nearly continuous 33-hour observation of three quasars today and tomorrow, tracking the extra-galactic objects as they rise and set with the rotation of the Earth. The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope will be participating in this. The observation is part of a demonstration at the opening event for the International Year of Astronomy 2009 (IYA 2009) in Paris 15-16 January.

17 telescopes in Asia, Australia, Europe, North America and South America will track the quasars J0204+1514, 0234+285 and 3C395, switching between the three to accommodate different frequency observing capabilities of the participating telescopes.

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The Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope

Using an astronomical technique called real-time, electronic Very Long Baseline Interferometry or e-VLBI, participating telescopes observe the same region of sky simultaneously, and data from each telescope is sampled and streamed through high-speed networks to a central processor at JIVE in the Netherlands. Operating in real-time, this central data processor, a purpose-built supercomputer, decodes, aligns and correlates the data for every possible pair of telescopes.

Representatives from participating institutes will attend the IYA 2009 Opening Ceremony in Paris to demonstrate the observation to over 800 attendees, including Nobel Prize winners and aspiring young scientists from over 100 countries. Organizers of the observation have also launched an educational Web site about e-VLBI at www.expres-eu.org/iya2009/, available to attendees of the Paris event and the general public.

To follow the opening ceremony in Paris live, click here:
http://canalc2.u-strasbg.fr/direct.asp?idEvenement=451

For more information about the e-VLBI observation, see:
http://www.expres-eu.org/IYA2009_opening.html.