Astronomer Vibor Jelić (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, University of Groningen (RuG)/ASTRON), has been awarded a Veni grant of 250 000 EUR by the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). With this grant, Jelić will study complicated radio emission from our own Galaxy that obscures the view towards the first stars and the early Universe. His work will also play a crucial role for the success of the Epoch of Reionization (LOFAR-EoR) key science project of the world-leading radio telescope LOFAR (the Low Frequency Array), designed and built by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. The LOFAR-EoR project is led by scientists from the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the RuG and ASTRON.
Published by the editorial team, 25 July 2013
Using the LOFAR radio telescope, scientists are expecting to detect cosmological radiation emitted billions of years ago, from the time of the first stars. This pivotal period in the history of the Universe is called the Epoch of Reionization (EoR). This era is key to understanding structure formation and the evolution of the Universe, and thus represents a missing piece of the puzzle in our current knowledge of the Universe. However, the faint cosmological radiation from the EoR is swamped by the foreground emission of our Galaxy and other extragalactic radio sources. Without removing the foreground emission from the data, the project team will not be able to detect the cosmological radiation and understand the EoR.
Jelić will exploit the innovative technology and capabilities of the LOFAR radio telescope in order to conduct a first detailed study of the foreground emission below 250 MHz. A special focus will be given to the (astro)physics of the Galactic foreground emission, e.g., the peculiar polarized structures of our Galaxy and the properties of its magnetic field. The study of the foregrounds not only constitutes a very interesting and exiting field of study in its own right, but the gained knowledge will also be used to develop foreground removal techniques, helping LOFAR in the race to be the first in probing the Epoch of Reionization.
An illustration of the LOFAR-Epoch of Reionization key science project.
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About the Veni grant:
Veni is one of the three finance forms of the so-called ‘Vernieuwingsimpuls' of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). Veni researchers are at the beginning of their careers, but have already shown a remarkable talent for conducting scientific research. The goal of these grants is to stimulate innovation in scientific research. The grants have been set up in cooperation with the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OC&W), the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW), and Dutch universities.
This year, 1001 young researchers proposed their projects for a Veni grant. 159 Veni grants were awarded, which means that 15.5% of the researchers who submitted a proposal actually received one. National and international scientists evaluated the proposals.