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New LOFAR radio telescope provides its first high-quality images

Published: 
27 April 2007

Astronomers in the UK are celebrating the arrival of the first high-quality images from a new radio telescope in the Netherlands.

LOFAR, which stands for Low Frequency Array, is a 'next generation' radio telescope consisting of a network of small antennae across the north east of the Netherlands. These first high-quality images were provided by data from 96 'low band' antennae in the province of Drenthe, sent via a dedicated glass-fibre link to a central processing facility at the University of Groningen, some 60km away.

Project leader of the LOFAR:UK group, Professor Rob Fender of the University of Southampton's School of Physics and Astronomy, said: "Once the network is complete it will form the largest radio telescope ever built, opening up a new window on the Universe.

"It will consist of 15,000 small antennae, distributed over 77 stations in the north east of the Netherlands and neighbouring parts of Germany. There are plans to extend its range by building stations elsewhere in Germany and in the UK, France, Sweden, Poland and Italy. Already more than twelve UK universities have joined our group and we have raised nearly €1 million in funds, enough to build the first UK station this summer."

Professor Steve Rawlings of Oxford University, also a leading member of LOFAR:UK, added: "LOFAR will be a world-beating telescope in its own right, and a critical first step on the pathway to the next-generation radio telescope the Square Kilometre Array (SKA)."

Notes for editors

  1. LOFAR is funded by the Netherlands government in the BSIK programme for interdisciplinary research for improvement of the knowledge infrastructure. Additional funding is provided by the European Community, European Regional Development Fund and the 'Northern Netherlands Assembly (SNN)" EZ/KOMPAS. More information can be found at www.lofar.org.
  2. LOFAR:UK is a collaboration between the universities of Cambridge, Cardiff, Durham, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Hertfordshire, Manchester, Oxford, Portsmouth and Southampton, plus  Liverpool John Moores University, University College London and the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory. More information can be found at www.lofar-uk.org, or by emailing Professor Rob Fender at rpf@phys.soton.ac.uk.
  3. Information on the Square Kilometer Array (SKA), a planned worldwide next-generation radio facility, can be found at www.skatelescope.org

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