Lorentz Center - Science with the Low Frequency Array
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    Science with the Low Frequency Array

Workshop “Science with the Low Frequency Array”

Science with the Low Frequency Array

Lorentz Center, Leiden – 21-25 January 2002


Organizers: Michiel van Haarlem (ASTRON, Dwingeloo), haarlem@astron.nl

and Huub Röttgering (Sterrewacht Leiden), rottgeri@strw.leidenuniv.nl


The Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) is a radio telescope that will operate at the lowest frequencies that are accessible from earth. It is being developed by ASTRON, based in Dwingeloo (the Netherlands), the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington DC (USA) and MIT’s Haystack Observatory (USA). LOFAR's goal is to open a new, high-resolution window on the electromagnetic spectrum from ~10–250  MHz (corresponding to wavelengths of 1.5–30 m).


The five key areas of science to be addressed by LOFAR are:

·         The High Redshift Universe: the study of the most distant radio galaxies and quasars

·         The Epoch of Reionization: detection of the global signature, and mapping of structures

·         Mapping Galactic Cosmic Rays: to map the 3D distribution of the Galactic cosmic ray electron gas

·         The Bursting and Transient Universe: to detect short lived transient events – bursts from Jupiter-like planets, merging and interacting compact objects.

·         Solar-Terrestrial Relationships: to detect Coronal Mass Ejections possibly in combination with a Solar Radar, and to study the Earth’s Ionosphere.


Apart from the five main topics listed above that will drive the design, LOFAR will have considerable applications to other fields of astronomy including the detection and study of galaxy cluster halos and their magnetic fields, the detection of fossil radio galaxies, the study of supernova remnants and their interaction with the interstellar medium, interstellar propagation effects, interstellar radio recombination lines and the detection and monitoring of pulsars and extrasolar planets. In addition, there will be applications in other fields e.g. atmospheric science.  A more detailed description of the instrument as well as these topics can be found at the LOFAR web site: www.lofar.nl.


LOFAR will be the first of a new generation of radio telescopes based on the principle of phased arrays. The absence of moving parts and digital nature of the instrument mean that it will be operated in a way that differs profoundly from current instruments. Novel aspects such as independent multi-beaming and rapid pointing of the telescope require the development of new operational modes. This workshop is intended as a kick-off for the definition of the formal user requirements. Discussions during this workshop will focus on those aspects of the design of the instrument that are of interest to potential users. These will include:

  • specification and scheduling,
  • operational modes,
  • calibration and data processing,
  • data export, and
  • user interaction with the telescope and processing infrastructure