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Astronomers publish new sky map detecting hundreds of thousands of previously unknown galaxies

obrazek: Dr hab. Magdalena Kunert-Bajraszewska (Nicolaus Copernicus University)
Dr hab. Magdalena Kunert-Bajraszewska (Nicolaus Copernicus University)

An international team of more than 200 astronomers from 18 countries has published the first phase of a major new radio sky survey at unprecedented sensitivity using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope. Dr hab. Magdalena Kunert-Bajraszewska and Phd student Carole Roskowiński from Nicolaus Copernicus University take part in this project.

The survey reveals hundreds of thousands of previously undetected galaxies, shedding new light on many research areas including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve. A special issue of the scientific journal Astronomy & Astrophysics is dedicated to the first twenty-six research papers describing the survey and its first results.

Radio astronomy reveals processes in the Universe that we cannot see with optical instruments. In this first part of the sky survey, LOFAR observed a quarter of the northern hemisphere at low radio frequencies. At this point, approximately ten percent of that data is now made public. It maps three hundred thousand sources, almost all of which are galaxies in the distant Universe; their radio signals have travelled billions of light years before reaching Earth.

All the research papers in the special issue of Astronomy & Astrophysics can be found at:

The research of the Toruń team is financed by the National Science Center.


More information:

LOFAR - The international LOFAR telescope (ILT) consists of a European network of radio antennas, connected by a high-speed fibre optic network spanning seven countries. Three LOFAR stations are located in Poland: near Cracow (Łazy, Jagiellonian University), near Olsztyn (Bałdy, University of Warmia and Mazury) and near Poznań (Borówiec, Space Research Center PAS). LOFAR was designed, built and is now operated by ASTRON (Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy), with its core located in Exloo in the Netherlands. LOFAR works by combining the signals from more than 100,000 individual antenna dipoles, using powerful computers to process the radio signals as if it formed a ‘dish’ of 1300 kilometres diameter. LOFAR is unparalleled given its sensitivity and ability to image at high resolution (i.e. its ability to make highly detailed images), such that the LOFAR data archive is the largest astronomical data collection in the world and is hosted at SURFsara (The Netherlands), Forschungszentrum Juelich (Germany) and the Poznan Super Computing Center (Poland). LOFAR is a pathfinder of the Square Kilometre Array (SKA), which will be the largest and most sensitive radio telescope in the world.


Institutes publishing the results:


  • The Netherlands:
    • ASTRON
    • the NOVA (Netherlands Research School for Astronomy) institutes at Leiden University, Groningen University, University of Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen
    • SURF/SURFsara
    • SRON
    • Ampyx Power B.V
    • JIVE
  • United Kingdom:
    • University of Hertfordshire
    • University of Edinburgh
    • Open University
    • University of Oxford
    • University of Southampton
    • University of Bristol
    • University of Manchester
    • The Rutherford Appleton Laboratory
    • University of Portsmouth
    • University of Nottingham
  • Italy:
    • National Institute for Astrophysics (INAF)
    • University of Bologna
  • Germany:
    • Hamburg University
    • Ruhr-University Bochum
    • Karl Schwarzschild Observatory Tautenburg
    • European Southern Observatory
    • University of Bonn
    • Max Planck Institut für Extraterrestrische Physik
    • Bielefeld University
    • Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy
  • Poland:
    • Jagiellonian University
    • Nicolaus Copernicus University Toruń
  • Ireland:
    • University College Dublin
  • Australia:
    • CSIRO
  • USA:
    • Harvard University
    • Naval Research Laboratory
    • University of Massachusetts
  • India:
    • Savitribai Phule Pune University
  • Canada:
    • University of Montreal
    • University of Calgary
    • Queen’s University
  • South Africa:
    • University of Western Cape
    • Rhodes University
    • SKA South Africa
  • France:
    • Observatoire de Paris PSL
    • Station de radioastronomie de Nançay
    • Université Côte d'Azur
    • Université de Strasbourg
    • Université d’Orléans
  • Denmark:
    • University of Copenhagen
  • Iceland:
    • University of Iceland
  • Mexico:
    • Universidad de Guanajuato
  • Sweden:
    • Chalmers University of Technology
  • Uganda:
    • Mbarara University of Science & Technology
  • Spain:
    • Universidad de La Laguna

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