Monday, November 23, 2009

Another LOFAR Related PhD Project

Another LOFAR related PhD project - this one at Queen Mary London, in Space and Solar Plasma Physics check out the advert, reposted below.

PhD project in Space and Solar Plasma Physics Queen Mary, University of London

Applications are invited for a SEPnet funded (South-East Physics network, PhD Studentship within the Astronomy Unit, School of Mathematical Sciences, Queen Mary University of London (QMUL).

The project is related to exciting, major unsolved problems of solar physics such as coronal heating and solar flare dynamics. Type III radio bursts are believed to come from solar flare electrons that travel upwards, away from the Sun, on open magnetic field lines. The proposed work aims to fill the gap in understanding how the upwards moving electrons are accelerated and produce the observed radio emission. This will be achieved through kinetic-scale modelling of the phenomenon and numerical simulation results will be compared with radio and other wavelength observations. The project benefits from access to large-scale parallel 1000 core processor cluster via UKMHD consortium, while the radio data will be available via participation of QMUL in LOFAR-UK and SEPnet Astro consortia ( The LOw Frequency ARray, LOFAR (, is a next-generation software-driven telescope currently under construction in the Netherlands and UK.

Dr David Tsiklauri, Senior Lecturer at Astronomy Unit, QMUL will be the PhD project supervisor, while Dr Aris Karastergiou, Astrophysics, Oxford University, will act in a co-supervisory capacity.

Applicants should have a good Honours degree in Physics or Applied Mathematics (at least 2:1 or equivalent) or a lower second class plus a Master’s (MPhys) qualification. Programming experience in any high level language is highly desirable.

Candidates will receive full fees and tax free stipend of circa £13,000 per annum for three years.

Candidates should send their CV and names (with contact details) of two referees by Email to: D.Tsiklauri@

The applications should be submitted as soon as possible, but no later than 15 January 2010.

Starting date will be soon after the deadline and is negotiable.

For further information, please visit URL links below:

Dr David Tsiklauri’s webpage http://www.maths. ~tsiklauri/

Astronomy Unit http://www.maths. Astronomy/

Queen Mary University of London http://www.qmul.

Funding Notes:

In addition to UK and EU students, non-UK or non-EU ones (worldwide) are also eligible to receive tuition fee waiver and a full stipend

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Second Delivery of LOFAR Parts Arrives - now pictures!

Updates with pictures: The second delivery of LOFAR parts arrived today at Chilbolton - even a day ahead of schedule! Now we can try to build an LBA. Stay tuned on that!

The lorry in place for unloading.

Unloading in the shade of the 25m antenna.

Boxes of electronics and cables in their temporary home in the Chilbolton workshop.

LOFAR Related PhD Project

Courtesy of the RAS Job List - a PhD project related to LOFAR.

Large-scale structure from the next generation of radio surveys.

University of Sussex Astronomy Centre
Supervisor: Dr. Ilian Iliev (Sussex)
Co-supervisors: Prof. Steven Rawlings (Oxford) and Prof. Robert Nichol(Portsmouth)

Funding is available for 3 years for suitably qualified candidates, at a level of 12,940 GBP/year. Fees are fully covered for UK/EU students (and in some cases may be covered for international students) and travel funding is also available.

This PhD project will address a host of important questions related to the formation and evolution of the large-scale cosmic structures. The main topics are studying the nature of the Dark Energy component which dominates today's universe through precise measurements of the Baryonic Acoustic Oscillations and evaluating the effects of possible primordial non-Gaussianity of the initial perturbations on the large-scale structures. Both objectives will be achieved through performing and studying N-body structure formation simulations which will be among the largest ever performed, with tens to hundreds of billions of particles. These results will then be compared to data from large galaxy surveys, in particular the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS), the HETDEX survey and radio surveys with LOFAR. More specifically, we will simulate the LOFAR million-source survey and SDSS-3, producing mock catalogues of both galaxies and radio sources. We will use the halo model and semi-analytical galaxy formation modelling to implement galaxies and sub-structure and their evolution. The high dynamic range of these simulations will improve the statistics and allow us to connect most radio sources to individual galaxies. It will also yield a better treatment of the nonlinear source clustering and scale-dependent bias. The key objectives are to produce detailed source catalogues and radio maps to be used for understanding the survey results and design improvements for future instruments like the Square Kilometer Array. This will allow us to extract much more precise values for the basic cosmological parameters from the data and gain better understanding of the nature of Dark Energy, one of the largest mysteries in present-day science.

For more information/to apply for this project, please contact Dr. Ilian Iliev (email: I.T.Iliev [AT]

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

More parts on the way to Chilbolton

We just got the word that the second load of LOFAR parts (lots of cables and electronics - everything else needed to set up the LBAs) are now on their way to Chilbolton. Expected arrival in 2 days.

Soon the workshop at Chilbolton will be very full of boxes! We were impressed on Thursday to see Owain's detailed plan for how it can all fit in until it's installed in the LOFAR field.

Visit to Chilbolton, Sunday Nov 15

Last Sunday I dragged the family up to Chilbolton to see the first delivered parts, the marked out station location and test pits, all dug in preparation for construction early in the new year. After five years of UK effort, and a decade of personal LOFAR involvement (so far!) it was great to see the project getting to this stage. Owain Davies kindly opened up the site for us in the middle of his weekend.

On the left you can see a small Fender oblivious to the high technology which are the LBA ground planes in the background...

Owain also drove us around the station site in the STFC landrover, and pointed out to us how the test pits reveal the striking change from soil to chalk only 20 cm below the surface.

There are ideas about shaping this chalk layer to aid with drain-off of water from the site.

Anyway, although there are still major decisions to be taken about things like the mode and route of our data links to The Netherlands, this first step in the construction of the Chilbolton station is a very significant one for LOFAR-UK.

Friday, November 13, 2009

First LOFAR Parts Arrive in Chilbolton

The first parts for the LOFAR array arrived safely in Chilbolton yesterday morning after a long trip over from Dwingloo.

Yesterday morning a group of LOFAR scientists from Portsmouth (Prof. Bob Nichol, Dr. Alejo Martinez-Sansigre, PhD student Hana Schumacher and myself) drove up to Chilbolton to see the arrival of the first parts with Owain Davies and Derek McKay, and get a tour around the site.

This first pictures shows the delivery men from the Netherlands unloading the ground planes (the part of the equipment which actually collects the radio waves for the longest frequency part of the array). This is standard metal mesh used to reinforce concrete in the Netherlands. Each weighs about 30kgs - here they are unloading half of the 96 in total which will be laid out in Chilbolton.

You can see in the background that the container (grey box) has already been unloaded, while in the foreground the ground sheets (rolled up black plastic - used to stop weeds growing up through the wire mesh) are still on the transport.

It was a rainy morning in Chilbolton, but the clouds cleared and a rainbow came out as we watched the action.

Prof. Bob Nichol and Dr. Alejo Martinez-Sansigre check we have the right container, and wonder how to go about breaking the customs seal to have a look inside.

More parts, including the electrical components for the LBAs (low band arrays) are expected next week, after which test construction of the LBA can begin. For now these parts and container will have a temporary home in the carpark next to the 25m antenna at Chilbolton while site preparation is completed at the final LOFAR-Chilbolton location on a more remote part of the site.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

LOFAR IYA2009 Stamp

In the Netherlands a stamp has been issued showing the location of LOFAR stations across Europe as part of the celebrations for IYA2009. You can see the Chilbolton station just makes it into the picture on the extreme left illustrating how LOFAR-UK adds to the resolution of LOFAR (ie. how sharp the images it will eventually be able to make) by creating some of the longest baselines. The addition of these outer international stations to the Dutch core make a radio telescope which is effectively as large as northern Europe! (Stations in France and Sweden are not on the stamp, but make it into the outer frame if you buy a block of ten.)

Chilbolton Container on its way!

We have received word this morning from ASTRON that the Chilbolton container with the first parts for the LOFAR station at Chilbolton is now on it's way. Hoping for a safe journey for arrival tomorrow morning.

Loading the container:

Setting off:

Look out for it if you're on the road between Dwingloo, NL and Chilbolton, UK in the next 24 hours or so!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Second International LOFAR Station Completed

Good news for LOFAR - the second international station has been completed (in Tautenberg, Germany).

Read all about it in this article on the main LOFAR website.