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ASTRON Newsletter November 2020  
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Data release of first Apertif imaging surveys

The Apertif imaging team has released science data from the first year of science operations of WSRT-Apertif. Now the entire astronomical community can access the data collected by Apertif (DR1) in its first year of observing, which started on 1 July 2019.

 
Access the data

Highlights

First direct detection of a brown dwarf with a radio telescope

With the detection of Elegast, LOFAR has proven to be a sensitive enough radio telescope to directly detect brown dwarfs. This opens up a path to use radio telescopes to discover faint objects that are close cousins of Jupiter-like exoplanets.
 
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Cosmic flashes come in all different sizes

By studying the site of a spectacular stellar explosion seen in April 2020, a Chalmers-led team of scientists have used four European radio telescopes (including the Westerbork telescope) to confirm that astronomy’s most exciting puzzle is about to be solved. Fast radio bursts, unpredictable millisecond-long radio signals seen at huge distances across the universe, are generated by extreme stars called magnetars – and are astonishingly diverse in brightness.
 
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First phase of DISTURB completed

S[&]T (Science [&] Technology), ASTRON (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy) and KNMI (Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) have completed the design of DISTURB, a warning system for eruptions on the sun. The next step will be developing a working prototype.
 
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Apertif images yield first results

The Apertif upgrade of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope (WSRT) has yielded its first scientific paper based on its images. The paper has been published in the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics.
 
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Humans of ASTRON

Zheng Meyer-Zhao
Science Data Centre Development Lead


Our column Humans of ASTRON is growing steadily with new stories. Recently Jorrit Siebenga, Zheng Meyer-Zhao, Ágnes Mika, Bernard Duah Asabere and David Prinsloo were interviewed.
 

Other stories

ASTRON 2.0

Per September 1st, our departments have been restructured. The former departments Research & Development, Astronomy Group and Radio Observatory have been restructured into two new departments: Innovation & Systems and Astronomy & Operations. Furthermore, our General Affairs department is now called Business Support & Services. With these changes, we can better meet the challenges up ahead: SKA, Science Data Centre, LOFAR 2.0 and a Gigahertz platform.
> Read the story

Prof.dr. Mark Bentum the new head A&O department

We are delighted that prof.dr. Mark Bentum is the new head of our Astronomy and Operations department at ASTRON. Mark has worked with us since 1996 and is one of the driving forces behind the LOFAR telescope. He was head of our radio group since 2018. Mark is also professor of radio science and dean of the honors academy at Eindhoven University of Technology.
> Read the story

Simultaneous optical and radio observations of Perseids

This year, scientists will be observing the meteor swarm with both AARTFAAC (Amsterdam-ASTRON Radio Transients Facility And Analysis Center) and optical cameras simultaneously, with the goal to achieve new scientific insights into meteors. The ionised trails left by meteors when they burn up in the atmosphere can reflect radio waves from, for example, radio and TV stations, and radio amateurs use this reflection to count meteors, both at night and during the day.
> Read the story

Postcards of the Dwingeloo Telescope

An amateur Dwingeloo historian sent us a pile of postcard scans, featuring the Dwingeloo Radio Telescope. The photos, mostly marked with “Radiokundig observatorium, Dwingeloo”, show the telescope in various stages of its professional period.
> View postcards

Current job openings

We are looking for a software engineer/developer. All vacancies can be found on the Working at ASTRON website.

Media mentions we are proud of

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