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A daily view of all the goings-on at ASTRON and JIVE.
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    © ASTRON

    With an innovative new type of receiver, called Apertif, the field of view of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope in the Netherlands has been increased 37 times. Apertif, developed by the Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy (ASTRON), will be officially opened on 13 September 2018 by deputy Cees Bijl of the Drenthe province. On this day the 50-year anniversary of the telescope will also be celebrated.

    The iconic 50-year old Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) has been upgraded with a new high-speed, wide-field radio camera called Apertif. Using a technique called beamforming, 12 of the 14 dishes are now able to map a part of the sky that is 37 times larger than before. Apertif is also a pathfinder of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), the future largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world, recognized by the SKA project.

    Het blikveld van de Westerbork Synthese Radio Telescoop is 37 keer vergroot dankzij Apertif, een innovatief nieuw type ontvanger. Apertif, ontwikkeld door het Nederlands Instituut voor radioastronomie (ASTRON), wordt op 13 september 2018 officieel geopend door gedeputeerde Cees Bijl van de provincie Drenthe. Op deze dag wordt ook het 50-jarige jubileum van de telescoop gevierd.

    De iconische 50-jaar oude radiotelescoop in Westerbork heeft in 12 van de 14 schotels een nieuwe set camera's gekregen. Met behulp van een techniek genaamd beamforming kan nu in een waarneming een deel van de hemel in kaart worden gebracht dat 37 keer groter is dan voorheen. Apertif is ook een door het Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project erkende voorloper van SKA, de toekomstige grootste en meest gevoelige radiotelescoop ter wereld.

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    © Roy de Goei /

    This year Leeuwarden-Fryslan 2018 is the Cultural Capital of Europe. One of the major project is the 11 fountains in the eleven Frisian cities, designed by eleven artists from different countries.

    One of these fountains is created by the french artist Jean-Michel Orthoniel, called 'the Oort-Cloud'

    The fountain is an ode to the famous astronomer Jan Hendrik Oort, who was born in Franeker. His assumption that 'cloud' of billions of comet-like objects moving around our solar system was a breakthrough in astronomy.

    The fountain is designed as a series of waterfalls spilling that flow into the water basin from a bowl, along a vertical chain of night-coloured pearls. One of the pearls is silver-coloured, like the colour of the moon, another is gilded, the colour of the sun.

    The 'Oort Cloud' fountain itself is a mist of fine droplets falling from a gold-coloured mesh into the bowl.

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    © Krzysztof T. Chyzy et al.

    LOFAR's Multifrequency Snapshot Sky Survey (MSSS) has resulted in extensive studies of a large sample of nearby star-forming galaxies. Using the measured 150-MHz flux densities from MSSS and flux densities at various frequencies from the literature, we have obtained integrated radio spectra for 106 galaxies. This image illustrates examples of such spectra, showing that they are generally flatter at lower compared to higher frequencies. However, as there is no tendency for the highly inclined galaxies to have more flattened low-frequency spectra, we came to the conclusion that the observed flattening is not due to thermal absorption, contradicting previous suggestions.

    The interpretation of the observed spectra was performed with a three-dimensional numerical model of galaxy radio emission, and radiation transfer dependent on the galaxy viewing angle and absorption processes. Our modelling suggests that the weak spectral flattening observed in the nearby galaxies results principally from synchrotron spectral curvature due to cosmic ray energy losses and propagation effects. We predict much stronger effects of thermal absorption in more distant galaxies with high star formation rates. We also show that integrated spectra alone cannot be properly interpreted without supplementary data on the properties of the local interstellar medium within the galaxies.

    If you wish to learn more about MSSS results and modelling of galaxy spectra, please look at our recent article - (K. T. Chyzy et al. 2018) - which is now accepted for publication in Astronomy & Astrophysics.

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  • 09/17/18--17:00: 5th LOFAR Data School
  • © Vanessa Moss

    This week ASTRON will host the 5th LOFAR data school. 51 participants from 14 countries will be introduced to the LOFAR system. The participants will follow lectures and tutorials that cover the many aspects of the LOFAR system from the capabilities of the basic station hardware to the software pipelines and science products they produce and will learn how to analyse both interferometric and beamformed data from LOFAR.

    More information about the school and the program can be found at the LOFAR data school website.

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    © ASTRON

    On 30 August we successfully delivered, installed and tested our Microserver Datacenter at the EnTranCe center of the Hanzehogeschool in Groningen. EnTranCe will perform energy efficiency measurements and student assignments on the datacenter.

    The Microserver Datacenter was developed by IBM and ASTRON in the DOME project. It contains server class compute nodes based on a system on a chip (SoC) with SATA, networking, serial port and boot FLASH interfaces on the same chip. Microservers are densely packed clusters of low power servers running computationally light workloads between thousands of processor cores.

    A fully populated 2U microserver datacenter housing contains 64 nodes. Each node contains one T4240 PowerPC processor with 12 cores, so a full housing contains 768 cores! Our datacenter is equipped with 8 nodes. The datacenter is water cooled and contains a network switch to route the traffic between the nodes and the outside world. It also contains an mSATA SSD card with one 240GB SSD for each processor.

    This activitiy is performed as part of the project Valorisation Microserver. By a consortium of SMEs and Knowledge institutes located in the Northern part of the Netherlands, this project is investigating the commercial prospects of this new design approach for densely packed highly energy efficient Micro data centers.