International LOFAR Stations
LOFAR stations consist of hundreds of antennas spread across a field about the size of a football field. They pick up radio waves at frequencies from just above and below FM radio at 10-90 MHz and 110-240 MHz. Once the raid waves have been detected, they are send by fibre optic cables to a supercomputer centre in Holland, where images are created.
The images below are of LOFAR stations in the UK and Germany. With funding from Science Foundation Ireland, we will install a LOFAR station in Birr in Spring/Summer 2017.
International LOFAR Telescope
The International LOFAR Telescope consists of many LOFAR stations that radiate from the Netherlands and which will soon stretch from Ireland to Poland. The longest baseline stretches about 1,900 km, making it possible to produce high resolution images at low radio frequencies (~0.1 arcsecond at 200 MHz).
Solar Radio Burst
A solar radio burst observed by LOFAR overlaid on an extreme-ultraviolet image from NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory. A movie of this short burst is also available. This image by I-LOFAR team members at Trinity College Dublin was featured on the front cover of the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
Toothbrush Galaxy Cluster
Below is a beautiful image of a cluster of galaxies called the "Toothbrush Galaxy", which glows at radio, X-ray and optical wavelengths. The red cloud at the top of the image was obtained by LOFAR (120-189 MHz), the blue haze was seen by the Chandra X-ray spacecraft, and the optical image was taken from the ground using the Subaru Telescope. These results were published in Astrophysical Journal by Weeren et al. (2016).
Galactic Star Formation
Gas clouds of hydrogen and formation of massive stars in the Milky Way Galaxy. This image was obtained using LOFAR's High Band Antennas. From Glenn White (Open University/Rutherford Appleton Laboratories).
LOFAR was used to make images of the Whirlpool Galaxy, a large spiral galaxy first sketched by the 3rd Earl of Rosse at Birr Castle. This images was created by another Irish astronomer, David Mulcahy at the University of Manchester. You can find out on this from their press release.
Astronomers have used LOFAR to produce the best image ever taken of a bubble of gas being blown our of a super-massive black hole. The image at left below shows the gas glowing a low frequencies, while the image at right shows the corresponding optical image. Further details can be found on the ASTRON website.
Magnetic Structures in the Milky Way
While trying to observe the structure of the early Universe, astronomers at the University of Groningen found that our Galaxy has a spaghetti like structure when it comes to its magnetic field. Read more in their press release.
Galaxies, Galaxies Everywhere
This sensitive, wide-field LOFAR image at 150 MHz contains more than 5,000 radio sources in an area of the sky that is about ten times the size of the full moon. The majority of the sources are galaxies containing an active black hole producing jets of relativistic particles. Credit: Wendy Williams (Leiden), Reinout van Weeren (Harvard) and Huub Rottgering (Leiden).
Jets from Black Hole in Radio Galaxy
The enigmatic radio galaxy Cygnus A is one of the brightest objects that LOFAR can see. This image by John McKean, who is now with the Square Kilometre Array team in Manchester, shows plasma jets from the black hole that stretch 2,000 light-years from the core of Cygnus A.
The Universe Through LOFAR Radio Eyes
A montage of radio images of star formation, jets, galaxies, stars, and the Sun obtained by the International LOFAR Telescope. LOFAR is opening up new frontiers on the Universe at low radio frequencies (10-240 MHz).