What are the major achievements and results of low frequency radio telescopes far? And what will be their science impact? These questions and more will be discussed during The Broad Impact of Low Frequency Observing conference, which takes place from 19 – 23 June in Bologna, Italy. The conference is hosted by the National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) in Bologna and organised in collaboration with ASTRON, supported by the International LOFAR Telescope.
Published by the editorial team, 23 June 2017
The conference, with more than 200 participants from all over the world, will focus on science results from a suite of low-frequency radio telescopes such as GMRT (India), MWA (Australia) and LWA (United States). A large fraction of the meeting will feature science from the Dutch and European LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) telescope. LOFAR is a transformational radio telescope, operating since 2012 at the lowest frequencies that can be observed from Earth (below 200 MHz). The facility was conceived as a multipurpose sensor network, with a vast computer and network infrastructure. Research in advanced ICT, for handling enormous quantities of data from widely distributed sensors, is at the very core of LOFAR.
“It’s fantastic to see the tremendous science output from the International LOFAR Telescope. LOFAR is clearly the pre-eminent contributor to the week-long science conference in Bologna that is bringing together the world’s experts in low frequency radio astronomy. This gives strong encouragement to continue to keep it at the cutting edge as a unique facility into the next decade,” says Rene Vermeulen, director of the International LOFAR Telescope.
“During this week we will present results and prospectives of our LOFAR Surveys,” says Huub Rottgering, scientific director of Leiden Observatory. “With our LOFAR Surveys we want to make high quality maps of the whole northern sky, which has never been done before. It took us almost 2 years to make the first maps, but with the newest computers in Amsterdam, it is possible to make those maps even faster.”
“What has impressed me the most at the conference is the incredible breadth of science that can be addressed by low-frequency radio telescopes like LOFAR, MWA, GMRT and LWA. We’re probing the Universe in myriad ways: studying lightning and the Earth’s ionosphere, the Sun and planets of our Solar System, and far beyond to understand exotic astronomical sources in our Milky Way and other galaxies deep in outer space. These telescopes are even looking back to the time at which the first stars were forming,” says Jason Hessels (ASTRON & University of Amsterdam)
Other low frequency facilities
The conference will also explore relevant links to some of the main facilities complementary to LOFAR, including ALMA, the VLA, and VLBI networks in the radio, as well as some of the world’s major observatories at other wavebands. Participants will obtain a good overview of the versatility and state-of-the-art technical capabilities available at low frequencies. Furthermore, the conference will address the planned upgrades to LOFAR and the other current facilities, looking ahead to how these will complement the SKA-low in the years to come.