GLOW News Blog

News about the German Long Wavelength Consortium and radio astronomy in Germany

At the meeting of Board of the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) on Monday, 16 April 2018, Italy has officially become a member of the ILT. Moreover,  the Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF) has announced to build a LOFAR station at the Medicina Radio Observatory site, 30 kilometres from Bologna. This will significantly improve the image quality since the distribution of international stations becomes much more roundish. 




The GLOW consortium welcomes two new members: On Monday, March 12, Jochen Weller and Stefan Wagner signed the GLOW Agreement for the Fakultät für Physik der Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München and the Zentrum für Astronomie der Universität Heidelberg, respectively, at the occasion of a meeting on the radio telescope MeerKAT. At the meeting in Würzburg the partners of the Verbundforschungsprojekt D-MeerKAT discussed the exiting prospects with upcoming MeerKAT telescope. The research groups of Jochen Weller and Stefan Wagner are already significantly involved in D-MeerKAT project. 


Stefan Wagner, Ralf-Jürgen Dettmar, Jochen Weller und Matthias Hoeft, Photo: M.Hoeft

In a recent work Kamlesh Rajpurohit (Tautenburg) and collaborators demonstrated how observations with the upgraded Very Large Array (equipped with broadband receivers) can significantly advance our knowledge about cosmic magnetism: The observation shows the spectacular Toothbrush radio relic in remarkable detail. The filamentary structures are very likely related to the distribution of magnetic fields in the cluster periphery and shed light on the origin of these fields. The observation gives a glimpse of how upcoming radio facilities will change our view of the universe! 


Rajpurohit et al. 2018.




GLOW welcomes back Dr. F. de Gasperin who took office on March 1st, 2018 as Junior Professor for Radio Astronomy at the Universität Hamburg. Located at the Hamburger Sternwarte, Francesco will build up a low-frequency radio astronomy group and is going to work with the International LOFAR telescope. Hamburger Sternwarte is contributing to the European LOFAR telescope with a station in Norderstedt. He graduated in 2012 from the LMU München, then came to Hamburg for two years of postdoctoral work in the extragalactic research group of Marcus Brüggen and then, in 2015, went to the University of Leiden (NL) as a Veni Fellow. Francesco has extensive experience with research involving LOFAR. He has developed calibration and imaging techniques, as well as novel technologies to analyse sky surveys at low frequencies. His astrophysical interests cover  Active Galactic Nuclei, galaxy evolution, and cosmology.

Bei Beobachtungen an Galaxienhaufen hat eine internationale Forschungsgruppe unter Leitung von Wissenschaftlern der Universität Hamburg eine neue Klasse kosmischer Radioquellen aufgespürt. Mit dem digitalen Radioteleskop Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) empfingen sie die längsten Radiowellen, die auf der Erde gemessen werden können, und erkannten so einen Galaxien-Schweif, der nach seinem Erblassen mit neuer Energie versorgt worden sein muss. In der aktuellen Ausgabe des Fachmagazins „Science Advances“ beschreibt das Team um Dr. Francesco de Gasperin von der Hamburger Sternwarte und dem Observatorium Leiden (Niederlande) seine Entdeckung.

 Pressemitteilung der Universität Hamburg

Fachartikel: de Gasperin et al. 2017, Gentle reenergization of electrons in merging galaxy clusters, Science Advances, 4.10.2017

GLOW can look back on a successful year with success in the federal Verbundforschung, tremendous progress with LOFAR results, very enjoyable meetings in Bologna, Würzburg and in Berlin, a new momentum for Germany joining the SKA, and new members joining. The HTW Berlin has joined at the GLOW annual meeting in Würzburg and the Ludwigs-Maximilian Universität in München is in the process of joining. Several other institutes have also expressed their wish to join GLOW.
Since the GLOW annual meeting in Würzburg a few months have already passed, so it is time to wrap up the year with a last newsletter for 2017.
--------- NEWS ------------
New LOFAR Station in Latvia 
A contract for building a new LOFAR station in Latvia has been signed. The station in Irbene is expected to become operation in 2019.
LoTSS Survey 
LOFAR surveys are making rapid progress. Catalogues as well as accompanying papers will be released soon. In a so-called “paper splash” a number of articles with LOFAR survey results are going to be published in a dedicated journal volume.
German SKA “Verein" underway
Preparations are underway to form a German SKA “Verein” with the aim to become an associated member of the SKA. Here a community day will take place early in 2018. A date will be announced soon.
BMBF has released a booklet on LOFAR
Earlier this year, the BMBF described LOFAR in a booklet on essential research infrastructures supported by the BMBF.
SKA and CERN have signed Big Data Cooperation agreement
SKA1 is expected to generate about 300 PByte of scientific data per year. Processing and handling such an amounts of data is a challenge.
SKA and CERN will cooperate to develop appropriate strategies, e,g, cloud based processing and regional centers.
DPG has founded Working Group “Physics, modern IT, and Artificial Intelligence"
Momentum for forming this group was picked up during the “Big Data” meeting in Berlin in June 2017.
The working group will meet at the DPG Frühjahrstagung in Würzburg, 2018, March 19-23
SKA and NRAO team up to develop software which can deal with large amounts of data expected for SKA1
------- ANNOUNCEMENTS ----------
A workshop on High-Resolution Surveys with International LOFAR will be held 19–23 March 2018 at the Lorentz Centre in Leiden and is designed to cover both expert discussions on finalising the details of the pipeline for general and heavy use. Several days of tutorials for new users will be included at the end of the week. We should ensure participation from Germany.
The Big Impact of a Big Dish: Science with the Effelsberg 100-m telescope
Next-Generation Cosmology with Next-Generation Radio Telescopes
Interstellar Medium in the Nearby Universe
 The power of radio tomography  -- Towards 3D mapping of cosmic magnetic 
See also
for a list of upcoming events. 
Job Opportunity
The Bielefeld Pulsar Group is advertising a position for a scientific programmer, which could also be interesting to technically-minded post-docs who have an interest in low-frequency pulsar observations and solar-wind studies. Contact Joris Verbiest for details.
You can find this and older newsletters on the GLOW news page
On behalf of the GLOW EC, let me thank you for your all your work you have put in to all the various radio astronomical initiatives over the year. I hope you find some well-deserved rest over the holidays.
A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year
Marcus (on behalf of the GLOW EC)


The fortress Marienberg in Würzburg provided an impressive environment for the Radio2017 conference and the annual meeting of the GLOW consortium. At the conference with motto "Radio astronomy in the multi-frequency survey era" a wide overview on recent progress in radio astronomy was given. 


See also the meeting webpage: Radio2017

At the GLOW Annual Assembly 2017 in Würzburg  the GLOW Consortium welcomed a new member: the Hochschule für Technik und Wirtschaft Berlin.

Marcus Brüggen, Klaus Semlinger (President of the HTW Berlin), and Matthias Hoeft at the HTW in Berlin, Campus Wilhelminenhof
Photo: H. Hessling


An international team of astronomers led by Francesco de Gasperin (Hamburg and Leiden University) has witnessed an unexpected phenomenon in a merger of two clusters of galaxies. The astronomers discovered a gas trail that slowly extinguished but then lit up again. It is unclear where the energy for the rejuvenation of this trail comes from. 

The astronomers investigated Abell 1033. This is a cluster of galaxies consisting of two smaller clusters that are in the process of merging. Abell 1033 is located in the northern constellation of Leo Minor (near Ursa Major). Clusters of galaxies are the largest structures in the Universe. They can contain hundreds to thousands of galaxies similar to our Milky Way. Smaller clusters can merge together to form a larger cluster.

The astronomers observed that an individual galaxy in Abell 1033 leaves a trail of gas as it traveled through the cluster. On astronomical scale, such a trail resembles the trail of colored smoke behind a stunt plane. It was expected that the gas trail, like the ones behind a stunt plane, would slowly fade and eventually disappear. To their astonishment they saw that the end of the gas trail was brighter than the middle.

"This was totally unexpected," says de Gasperin. "As these clouds of electrons radiate away their energy over time, they should become fainter and disappear. Instead, in this case, after more than a hundred million years, the trail of electrons is glowing brightly."

There is no precise explanation for this phenomenon yet. It seems that the trail brightens near the center of the cluster of galaxies. De Gasperin: "Part of the energy released in the merger event must have transferred to rejuvenate the cloud of electrons.”

This work has been published in Science Advances

Pressemeldung der Astronomischen Gesellschaft und des Rats deutscher Sternwarten, Göttingen, 19. September 2017

Denkschrift 2017: Perspektiven der Astrophysik in Deutschland 2017 – 2030

Von den Anfängen des Kosmos bis zu Lebensspuren auf extrasolaren Planeten


Der Rat deutscher Sternwarten (RDS) hat heute auf der Tagung der Astronomischen Gesellschaft die Denkschrift 2017 „Perspektiven der Astrophysik in Deutschland 2017-2030 – Von den Anfängen des Kosmos bis zu Lebensspuren auf extrasolaren Planeten“ veröffentlicht. Der RDS als Vertretung der wissenschaftlichen Forschungseinrichtungen in der Astronomischen Gesellschaft präsentiert darin den hohen Stand der astrophysikalischen Forschung in Deutschland und gibt Handlungsempfehlungen für das kommende Jahrzehnt. Der RDS empfiehlt insbesondere die Beteiligung Deutschlands an den wesentlichen internationalen Infrastrukturen, dem Extremely Large Telescope und den weiteren Einrichtungen der Europäischen Südsternwarte (ESO) in Chile, dem Square Kilometre Array in Südafrika und Australien und dem European Solar Telescope auf Teneriffa. Er spricht sich weiter für ein starkes Engagement Deutschlands in der Weltraumforschung insbesondere im Rahmen des nationalen Weltraumprogramms aus.

„Die Denkschrift 2017 bestätigt beeindruckende Fortschritte in der astrophysikalischen Forschung in den vergangenen 15 Jahren – weltweit und insbesondere auch in Deutschland“, begrüßt Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, Präsident der Astronomischen Gesellschaft und Koordinator der Denkschrift. „Forschende in Deutschland waren an zahlreichen wissenschaftlichen Durchbrüchen beteiligt. Darauf aufbauend gibt die Denkschrift 2017 strategische Empfehlungen, wie Deutschland seine international führende Rolle in der astrophysikalischen Forschung im kommenden Jahrzehnt verfestigen und weiter ausbauen kann.“

Die Denkschrift 2017 ist auf Grundlage von 20 Strategiepapieren der in Deutschland vertretenen astronomischen Spezialdisziplinen entstanden. Die Themen reichen von Sternen und ihren Planetensystemen bis zur Kosmologie und Dunklen Materie. Aktuelle Fragen der Astrophysik, wie die nach den Frühphasen des Universums, der Entwicklung Schwarzer Löcher oder nach dem möglichen Nachweis außerirdischen Lebens werden in der Denkschrift ebenso adressiert wie der Ausbau der Forschungsinfrastrukturen, die zu ihrer Beantwortung notwendig sind. Neben der Präsentation des aktuellen Forschungsstandes identifiziert das Redaktionsteam, das sich aus führenden Wissenschaftlerinnen und Wissenschaftlern der astrophysikalischen Institute in Deutschland zusammensetzt, aber auch, welche Fortschritte in der nächsten Dekade realistisch sind und wie der Erkenntnisgewinn optimal gefördert werden kann.

Die Kernaussage der Denkschrift bilden die Empfehlungen zur Beteiligung an den wichtigsten internationalen Teleskopprojekten und Beobachtungseinrichtungen auf der Erde und im Weltraum. Dies sind in erster Linie die großen internationalen Observatorien wie dasExtremely Large Telescope der ESO, das mit einem Spiegeldurchmesser von 39 Metern das „biggest eye on the sky“ sein wird, und die geplanten Einrichtungen auf der europäischen Infrastructure Roadmap, wie etwa das Radio-Antennenfeld Square Kilometre Array (SKA) und das European Solar Telescope. In der Weltraumforschung sind Missionen des Cosmic Vision Programms der Europäischen Weltraumagentur ESA von besonderer Bedeutung. An allen diesen Vorhaben sind Astronominnen und Astronomen in Deutschland entscheidend beteiligt, oft in leitender Position. Sowohl die europäischen Teleskopvorhaben auf der Erdoberfläche als auch die im Weltraum müssen jedoch ergänzt werden durch individuelle nationale und bilaterale Vorhaben, gerade um angesichts der Langfristigkeit dieser Projekte die treibenden Spezialistinnen und Spezialisten in den verschiedenen Fachrichtungen in Deutschland zu halten. Ein weiteres Themenfeld der Denkschrift spricht die Vernetzung der verschiedenen Projekte und der Förderorganisationen an. Handlungsbedarf wird hier darin gesehen, klarere Strukturen für den nachhaltigen Betrieb großer Beobachtungseinrichtungen zu entwickeln, die eine Teilhabe aller Forschenden sowohl an Universitäten als auch an außeruniversitären Forschungseinrichtungen ermöglichen. Ebenso sollten Forschungsvorhaben auf der Erde und solche im Weltraum noch enger aufeinander abgestimmt werden.

Die Denkschrift 2017 widmet sich auch weiteren Themen, wie dem Höchstleistungsrechnen, dem virtuellen Observatorium und der Wissenschaft mit großen Datenmengen sowie Überlegungen zu Know-how und zur Personalentwicklung. Handlungsfelder werden in der Etablierung klarer Karriereperspektiven für den wissenschaftlichen Nachwuchs gesehen, etwa in Form von Tenure-Track-Stellen, und in dem weiteren Bestreben, junge Menschen und insbesondere auch Frauen für die Astronomie und die Naturwissenschaften zu gewinnen. Dem akademischen Mittelbau kommt auf Grund der Abhängigkeit der Astronomie von großen und komplexen Beobachtungeinrichtungen eine besondere Bedeutung zu. Der Rat deutscher Sternwarten setzt mit der Denkschrift 2017 die Tradition aus den Jahren 1962, 1987 und 2003 fort. Die Denkschrift 2017 verdeutlicht Deutschlands gestaltende Beteiligung beim Bau und der Nutzung astrophysikalischer Infrastrukturen und betont die Wirkung, die davon auf andere Bereiche der Forschung und Entwicklung, auf die Ausbildung von Fachkräften und auf die Öffentlichkeit ausgeht. Mit den Empfehlungen der Denkschrift 2017 wenden sich die Astronominnen und Astronomen in Deutschland an wissenschaftliche und wissenschaftspolitische Entscheidungsträger an den Universitäten, in den Wissenschafts- und Förderorganisationen und in der Forschungspolitik.

Die Denkschrift 2017 sowie die 20 ihr zugrundeliegenden Strategiepapiere finden Sie unter:

Direkt zum Strategiepapier “Radio astronomy infrastructures” von Eduardo Ros, Dominik J. Schwarz, & Christian Vocks geht es hier: Radio astronomy infrastructures

New antenna station further increases sensitivity of the world's largest radio telescope 

On 27 July 2017, the newly built Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) station in Ireland was officially opened. This extends the largest radio telescope in the world, connecting to its central core of antennas in the north of the Netherlands, now forming a network of two thousand kilometres across. Astronomers can now study the history of the universe in even more detail. The station was opened by the Irish Minister for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan. 

The international LOFAR telescope (ILT) is a European network of radio antennas, connected by a high-speed fibre optic network. With the data of thousands of antennas together, now including the Irish antennas, powerful computers create a virtual dish with a diameter of two thousand kilometres. The telescope thus gets has an even sharper and more sensitive vision.

More detail

Rene Vermeulen, Director of the ILT, is very excited about this new collaboration. "Thanks to the new LOFAR station in Ireland, we can observe the universe in even more detail. For example, we can look more closely at objects near and far, from our Sun to black holes, magnetic fields, and the emergence of galaxies in the early Universe. These are important areas of research for astronomers in the Netherlands and other ILT partner countries. "

The Irish LOFAR team is led by Professor Peter Gallagher (Trinity College Dublin), an expert on Solar astrophysics. Vermeulen: “Studying the Sun, including solar flares, is an important branch of astronomical research. In this and other areas Irish researchers bring important reinforcement to our partnership.”

Successful tests

LOFAR was designed and built by ASTRON, the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. Earlier this month, a team from ASTRON conducted the final delivery tests of the Irish station on the Birr castle estate. The antennas, which conduct measurements at the lowest frequencies that can be observed from the earth, perform according to specification. The fibre optic network has already been successfully connected to the supercomputer in the computing centre in Groningen, which combines the data of the thousands of antennas.



Radio astronomy proposals granted by Verbundforschung

The BMBF fosters the development of research infrastructure via the Verbundforschung funding line. In the upcoming Verbundforschung funding period radio astronomy will be substantially supported. Four projects of a proposal aiming for developing the German LOFAR infrastructure further and five projects of a proposal aiming for enabling MeerKAT data management and handling in Germany have been granted. The support by the BMBF Verbundforschung funding is essential for University research groups to participate in the development of future radio telescopes to benefit from data access. 


eRosita - LOFAR

A group of scientist from the LOFAR Surveys KSP and from the German eROSITA team has discussed synergies between the two surveys. The overlap between LOFAR sky survey (LOTSS) and the part of sky observed with eROSITA amounts to 3000 sq deg only. A project to survey galaxy clusters with LOFAR and eRosita will be led by M. Brüggen and T. Reiprich. 


LOFAR in Physik in unserer Zeit

In the recent issue of ‘Physik in unserer Zeit’ the LOFAR telescope is described by M. Hoeft.


Summerstudents working on LOFAR data

This summer, a group of 4 students from Arizona State University spend 8 weeks at the universities of Bochum and Hamburg to work on LOFAR data. This programme is sponsored by the US National Science Foundation and runs for its 5th year. One student from Oberlin College in Ohio visiting the LOFAR group at the University Bielefeld to work on LOFAR data. 


Diffuse emission in Galaxy Clusters - Workshop

The Galaxy Cluster group of the DFG research group on Cosmic Magnetism has recently held workshop at MPA in Garching. This workshop concluded the successful research aiming to understand the origin of cosmic magnetic fields carried out in the last six years by the research group. During the workshop the potential of LOFAR to discover steep spectrum radio sources, e.g. fossil AGN, has been impressively shown in many contributions.


SKA Science Town Hall Meeting

SKAO has held a town hall meeting to brief the scientific community on a preliminary package of cost reduction measures and for the community to report on their scientific assessments of such measures across the entire breadth of SKA science. Presentations are available online.


MeerKAT 32 first images 

SKA SA presents recent progress in installing MeerKAT to Minister Naledi Pandor. The images reveal the potential of MeerKAT.



The Broad Impact of Low Frequency observing - Conference

The conference will take place between 19-23 June 2017 in Bologna (Italy). It will run from Monday morning, 9am till Friday, lunchtime. On Friday afternoon, we will hold the 4th LOFAR Users Meeting, at the same venue. 


Big Data Made in Germany - Conference 

Challenges arising from enormous amount of data produced by the next generation of telescopes will be addressed in a conference which aims for bringing together high-ranking representatives from astronomy, big data science, industry, and politics. A symposium with a panel discussion will be held at the Bode museum in Berlin.


Astronomische Gesellschaft Annual Meeting

The Annual Meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft 2017 (AG2017) entitled "The many Scales of the Universe: Galaxies, their Suns, and their Planets" will be held from September 18-22, 2017 at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen and the Max-Planck-Institut für Sonnensystemforschung. There will be splinter session on “Surveying the non-thermal Universe”


Radio 2017: Radio astronomy in the multi-frequency survey era

GLOW Annual Assembly and GLOW SKA Meeting will take place on 5-6 October in Würzburg. The meeting aims for bringing together scientist working on current or future surveys in frequency regimes related to radio astronomy (e.g. SKA, ALMA, SPT, eROSITA, Athena, Fermi-LAT and CTA. 

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