A prominent research theme at ASTRON involves the study of Cosmic Dawn (CD) and Epoch of Reionization (EoR) with LOFAR. These eras span the first billion years of the Universe’s history when the first stars and galaxies appeared and died, forming the first elements that make up everything that we see around us today. This period in the history of the Universe remains the least explored. Advancing our understanding of this early universe has been a primary motivation for the construction of the Square Kilometre Array.
Research staff: Andre Offeringa, Harish Vedantham
LOFAR is searching for the 21-cm line signal from diffuse neutral hydrogen between 110 and about 200 MHz, corresponding to a Cosmic time between 400 and 900 million years after the Big-Bang. More recently, the AARTFAAC system on LOFAR is also being used to search for similar signal from the earlier cosmic dawn epoch, about 200 million years after the big bang.
Most of the current group members are based at ASTRON and the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen, but the team involves members from e.g. the UK, Germany and Sweden.