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ERC

ALERT Report Summary

Project ID: 617199
Funded under: FP7-IDEAS-ERC
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - ALERT (ALERT - The Apertif-LOFAR Exploration of the Radio Transient Sky)

When you look up, the stars in the sky appear to be unchanging, night after night. But if you had radio eyes, you would see bright flashes every few seconds. When we started ALERT, we knew these flashes were made billions of light years away. But their origin was an outright mystery. The ALERT team has since been involved in the detection and systematic study of many more such flashes. We now know that some repeat, so not all flashes are a sign of some cataclysmic explosion. But others appear to happen only once, and could be the result, for example, of the merger of two neutron stars. Past such mergers made all the first gold in the Universe, which then found its way to the young and forming Earth. So we are interested in understanding the flashes, the explosions, and the mergers.

Hence we are building one of the fastest supercomputers in the world, to continuously search through the images made by a vastly upgraded radio telescope, at Westerbork, in The Netherlands. By next digitally steering a different telescope, LOFAR, in the right direction, we aim to figure out what is the cause of these extremely bright flashes.

Reported by

STICHTING ASTRONOMISCH ONDERZOEK IN NEDERLAND
Netherlands
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