Several hundred astronomers share the data delivered by the International LOFAR Telescope (ILT). Multiple international collaborations were created among astronomers interested in similar research fields. To answer the most urgent questions Key Science Projects were created, which are representative for the variety of astrophysical research made in the long-wavelength window to the universe.
Currently six Key Science Projects are established, to which a large community of German astronomers contribute. The first two projects are led by GLOW institutes,
- Cosmic magnetism
Magnetic fields are present in almost every place in the Universe. In spite of their importance, the evolution, structure and origin of magnetic fields are still open problems in fundamental physics and astrophysics.
- Solar science and space weather
LOFAR is used for routine imaging of the Sun and moitoring of solar bursts. The data is archived by the Solar Science Data Center.
- Epoch of Reionisation
LOFAR will measure the neutral hydrogen fraction in the Universe as a function of redshift, through the hydrogen hyperfine 21cm line. The project will map the Universe's Epoch of Reionization in a number of fields of view with arc-minute resolution.
- Deep extragalactic surveys
Surveys will discover hundred thousands of new extragalactic radio sources. They will be used to advance our understanding of the formation and evolution of galaxies, including our own, AGNs and galaxy clusters.
- Transient sources
Under this remit come all time-variable astronomical radio sources, including pulsars, gamma-ray bursts, X-ray binaries, radio supernovae, flare stars, and even exo-planets. With its continuous monitoring of a large area of sky, many new transient events will be found.
- Ultra high energy cosmic rays
Cosmic Rays are electrons and positrons, which arrive on Earth from outer space. They generate radiation in the low frequency radio regime and can be detected by LOFAR.
In Germany, the role of magnetic fields in different astrophysical environments is studied by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft Research Unit 1254
bringing together 8 astrophysical institutes throughout Germany.
German scientific interests to engage with the International LOFAR Telescope were outlined 2005 in the
White paper: German LOFAR, A major step to the future of German radio astronomy