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Large radio telescope Lofar celebrates its tenth anniversary

It has been Friday ten years since Lofar came into use. The Low Frequency Array consists of more than one hundred thousand antennas, spread across Europe, and has several discoveries to its name.

The then Queen Beatrix activated Lofar ten years ago . The basis of the low-frequency telescope is located in Exloo, Drenthe, where six stations with 25,000 antennas are located. The telescope extends to other regions in the Northern Nethrlands and Europe; there are stations in Ireland, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Germany, France, Poland, Latvia and Italy.

Unlike satellite dishes, Lofar consists of whip antennas that cover a large area and receive radio waves between 110 and 250MHz and frequencies between 10 and 90MHz. The measurements can assist astronomers in their research into the formation of galaxies, the influence of magnetic fields on the early universe, gravitational waves and dark energy.

Lofar is a project by Astron, the Netherlnds Institute for Radio Astronomy. That institute put the milestones of the radio telescope of the past ten years in a row. The telescope has achieved results in research into the ionosphere, exoplanets, and fusion of galaxies , among other things. Because the measurements had to process enormous amounts of data, Astron faced challenges with regard to processing by supercomputers. It, therefore, had to use GPUs and self – designed FPGA boards.

Astron is working on an upgrade of the system under the name Lofar 2.0. In addition, the Square Kilometer Array or SKA is under development, which can observe the sky even faster and in more detail.

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