GLOW News Blog

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

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. 

PhD student Amanda Wilbers from the University of Hamburg has discovered a giant radio galaxy using LOFAR. The galaxy has a tail that stretches for more than 3 million light years. The results are being prepared for publication in a peer-reviewed journal.

At GLOW Annual Assembly the GLOW Consortium welcomed a new member: The Lehrstuhl für Experimentelle Physik Vb at the Technische Universität Dortmund (TUD). Dr. Dominik Elsässer gave an overview of the research interests of the group of Professor Wolfgang Rhode at the TUD. The group brings an outstanding expertise in the research fields of detector modelling, data mining, machine learning and interconnection to astroparticle physics to the GLOW community. Such expertise is crucial for upcoming radio surveys such as the LOFAR LOTSS survey and the MeerKAT MIGHTEE survey.

The GLOW consortium meets annually to present recent progress in long wavelength radio astronomy. This year the meeting was kindly hosted by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam. Beside scientific topics, prospects for the development of new and upcoming radio astronomy telescopes, as LOFAR and MeerKAT, as well as of infrastructure have been discussed.  At the meeting Prof. Marcus Brüggen has been elected as new GLOW chair. 

Christmas is approaching and the SKA organisation is sending some season's greetings. Those of you who like to take some time to reflect on the steps that were taken in 2016 to bestow us with an exiting new instrument in the coming years, check out the SKA Advent Calendar!

Bielefeld University currently showcases the LOFAR telescope in it's outreach channel, where notable research of the University is regularly presented. The video feature is in German language with English subtitles and can be seen below. A press release is available in German and English language.


In der aktuellen Ausgabe der Zeitschrift Nature ist die Veröffentlichung einer internationalen Kooperation erschienen, die sich der Erforschung kosmischer Teilchenstrahlung widmet. An der Arbeit sind auch Forscher des GLOW-Konsortiums beteiligt. Die Publikation trägt den Titel A large light-mass component of cosmic rays at 1017–1017.5 electronvolts from radio observations und berichtet über präzise Messungen von kurzen Radioimpulsen, die von Geschossen aus dem All verursacht werden, wenn diese auf die Erdatmosphäre treffen. Diese Messungen, die mit dem LOFAR-Radioteleskops gemacht wurden, ermöglichen Rückschlüsse auf Herkunft und Beschaffenheit dieser Geschosse. Mehr Informationen können Sie der Pressemeldung auf den Webseiten des Max-Plack-Instituts für Radioastronomie in Bonn entnehmen.

Der Antrag eine deutsche Beteiligung am Square Kilometre Array (SKA) in der Nationalen Roadmap fuer Forschungsinfrastrukturen vorzusehen wurde am 15. Januar 2016 beim Projekttraeger DLR eingereicht. Der Antrag wird insgesamt von 35 wissenschaftlichen Institutionen unterstuetzt. Weitere Informationen dazu sind dem aktuellen German SKA Bulletin zu entnehmen.

Im Tagesspiegel ist gerade ein lesenwerter Artikel zur Rolle Deutschlands beim SKA (Square Kilometre Array) erschienen. Anlass ist die zurzeit in Vorbereitung befindliche Bewerbung mehrerer deutscher Forschungsinstitute und Universitäten beim "Roadmap-Prozess für Forschungsinfrastrukturen" des BMBF, über den eine nationale Beteiligung Deutschlands and diesem in wissenschaftlicher wie wirtschaftlicher Hinsicht außerordentlich interessanten Projekt erreicht werden soll. Hier geht es zum Artikel beim Tagesspiegel.

Last week, at the GLOW Annual Assembly 2015 at AIfA in Bonn, the GLOW consortium was happy to welcome the University of Würzburg as it's newest member. Prof. Matthias Kadler and his group research the links of long-wavelength radio astronomy with topics in high energy astrophysics and astroparticle physics, focusing on relativistic jets in blazars and other active galaxies. We are looking forward to fruitful discussions and exciting new discoveries in this collaboration.

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