LOFAR is the largest and most sensitive radio telescope operating at low radio frequencies, between 10 and 240 MHz. It consists of antenna stations geographically distributed across Europe and driven in software by powerful station-level computing to produce a highly flexible and agile observing system. With a sensitivity more than 2 orders of magnitude better than any previous telescope at these frequencies, unparalleled angular resolution, an enormous field of view and multi-beam capabilities, LOFAR is by far the most powerful 100 MHz telescope on the planet and is revolutionising our view of the low-frequency radio universe.
LOFAR has an extremely diverse science case, from cosmology to Solar system studies:
LOFAR also provides a platform for conducting research in other science disciplines, such as the study of lightning, the ionosphere, and Space Weather. As such, LOFAR attracts a very broad user community from a wide range of countries.
LOFAR is by its nature a pan-European project, with 52 antenna stations located across 8 European countries: the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. The construction of 2 further international stations in Italy and Bulgaria is planned. The long international baselines arising from the distributed nature of LOFAR are essential to provide its unique high angular resolution.
LOFAR ERIC will provide a coordinating organisation to optimise the joint exploitation and to maximise the science output of the LOFAR facilities. Importantly, LOFAR ERIC will also ensure a united approach to ongoing and future upgrades to the facility. The staged upgrade called LOFAR2.0 will hugely enhance the capabilities of LOFAR, particularly at the lowest frequencies.
the Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik.
the Thüringer Landessternwarte.
the Astrophysikalisches Institut Potsdam.
the Onsala Space Observatory.
Universität Bielefeld and Universität Hamburg.
the Observatoire de Paris and CNRS (Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique).
Italian National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF).
the Jagiellonian University in Krakow.
jointly the University of Bochum, Jacobs University Bremen & Forschungszentrum Jülich.
Ventspils University College (VUC).
the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie.
STFC (Science and Technology Facilities Council) on behalf of LOFAR-UK and SEPNET (South East Physics Network).
the Space Research Institute (CBK) in Warsaw.
Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland.
the University of Warmia and Mazury - UWM - in Olsztyn.
The vision of LOFAR ERIC is to ensure that LOFAR remains the world's most powerful very-low-frequency and long-baseline radio interferometer, to serve the needs of the European research community, and to bring it together to maximise the scientific output from the powerful and versatile LOFAR infrastructure. Through this, LOFAR ERIC aims to provide hands-on scientific and technical skills and knowledge that will enable European researchers to establish and maintain global leadership positions in radio astronomy.
To achieve this vision, the mission of LOFAR ERIC has several components.