From JIVE via Jodrell Bank: “Radio astronomers score high marks in the competition for EU funding”

Jodrell Bank Lovell Telescope
Lovell

Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics

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JIVE

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RadioNet

01/12/2017

RadioNet, a consortium of 28 leading institutions for radio astronomical research from 13 countries, has been awarded 10 million Euro by the European Commission, to be used over the next four years. The speaker of the RadioNet consortium is Prof. J. Anton Zensus from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn (Germany).

[THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT THIS FOR ME IS AT THIS SAME TIME, NSF IN THE U.S.A. IS CONSIDERING CUTTING FUNDING FOR VARIOUS AND SUNDRY RADIO ASTRONOMY ASSETS. ARE WE GONG TO AGAIN CEDE LEADERSHIP IN AN AREA OF THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES TO EUROPE? SOMEONE TELL ME SOMETHING TO BE HAPPY ABOUT WITH THE NSF.]

RadioNet will provide support for various aspects of radio astronomical research in Europe; it will enable scientists from all over the world to use the radio telescopes and data archives of the consortium members for their research free of charge. The members will join forces to develop new radio receivers that can be used at many European radio observatories. RadioNet will foster the creation of new software necessary to process the enormous data flow expected from these new receivers and to ensure that they are of high quality and free from interferences.

“RadioNet allows us not only to make more efficient use of the members’ radio telescopes; by combining the data from radio observatories all over Europe and world wide, we can achieve images with a resolving power that would normally require a telescope with a diameter of thousands of kilometres”, explains Prof. J. Anton Zensus, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) and speaker of the RadioNet consortium. He leads the research department for Radio Astronomy and Very Long Baseline Interferometry (VLBI) at the MPIfR, one of the key centres of expertise for VLBI in Europe. Amongst other things, VLBI allows astronomers to study the events in the immediate vicinity of the cores of active radio galaxies.

One activity of RadioNet will be the joint development by several of the RadioNet partners of a new receiver system named BRAND (BRoad bAND), which completely covers the wide frequency range from 1.5 to 15 gigahertz. “For astronomers and observatories, using the new BRAND receiver will have several advantages: there will be less maintenance necessary and more available time for astronomical observations since all frequency bands between 1.5 and 15 Giga Hertz can be used simultaneously”, explains Walter Alef, who leads the BRAND project at the MPIfR. “By using BRAND the European telescope network will assume a worldwide leading role in VLBI observations.”

One declared goal of the Bonn astronomers is to study the details of the central regions of our Milky Way and other galaxies. The underlying assumption is that supermassive black holes provide the central energy sources of such galaxies. In the context of the Event Horizon Telescope, the scientists even hope to image the immediate vicinity of the black hole in the centre of our Galaxy at short wavelengths.

Event Horizon Telescope Array

Event Horizon Telescope map

The locations of the radio dishes that will be part of the Event Horizon Telescope array. Image credit: Event Horizon Telescope sites, via University of Arizona at https://www.as.arizona.edu/event-horizon-telescope.

Arizona Radio Observatory
Arizona Radio Observatory/Submillimeter-wave Astronomy (ARO/SMT)

ESO/APEX
Atacama Pathfinder EXperiment (APEX)

CARMA Array no longer in service
Combined Array for Research in Millimeter-wave Astronomy (CARMA)

Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)
Atacama Submillimeter Telescope Experiment (ASTE)

Caltech Submillimeter Observatory
Caltech Submillimeter Observatory (CSO)

IRAM NOEMA interferometer
Institut de Radioastronomie Millimetrique (IRAM) 30m

James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA
James Clerk Maxwell Telescope interior, Mauna Kea, Hawaii, USA

Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano
Large Millimeter Telescope Alfonso Serrano

CfA Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO
Submillimeter Array Hawaii SAO

Future Array/Telescopes

ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array
ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array, Chile

Plateau de Bure interferometer
Plateau de Bure interferometer

South Pole Telescope SPTPOL
South Pole Telescope SPTPOL

“Each of the partners of our consortium possesses world class technology and expertise. We want to focus all these resources and thus expand European leadership in the area of radio astronomy”, says Anton Zensus, “We regard it as an acknowledgement of our work and our expertise that we are entrusted with coordinating this important project.”

Training and knowledge transfer of researchers and engineers, as well as the common use of resources, are important aspects of the RadioNet project in order to ensure the leading role of European research institutions in global observatories such as the “Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array” (ALMA) or the Square Kilometre Array (SKA).

ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres
ESO/NRAO/NAOJ ALMA Array in Chile in the Atacama at Chajnantor plateau, at 5,000 metres

SKA Square Kilometer Array
SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia
SKA/ASKAP radio telescope at the Murchison Radio-astronomy Observatory (MRO) in Mid West region of Western Australia

Prof. Zensus is confident that the success of the RadioNet cooperation will eventually make it self-sustainable.

The official start of RadioNet activities for the next four years is celebrated today. January 12th, 2017, in a kick off meeting at the Harnack House of the Max Planck Society in Berlin.

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RadioNet is a consortium of 28 partner institutions from the following 13 countries: Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Latvia, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, the UK, and South Africa and South Korea.

See the full article here .

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Jodrell Bank Centre for Astrophysics comprises research activities in astronomy and astrophysics at The University of Manchester, the world leading facilities of the Jodrell Bank Observatory, the e-MERLIN/VLBI National Facility and the Project Development Office of the Square Kilometre Array.

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