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Final Activity Report Summary - ESTRELA (Early stage training site for European long-wavelength astronomy)

Astronomy is currently in a transition phase, awaiting a new generation of telescopes which shall use the latest technology to provide orders of magnitude increases in our ability to probe the Universe. The ESTRELA programme included institutions across Europe that were actively involved in this process at long, i.e. radio, mm and sub-mm, wavelengths.

New technologies being developed include both telescope development and advances in receiver development for radio interferometry. These involved large-bandwidth connections between telescopes for greater sensitivity, e.g. the United Kingdom e-MERLIN project, opening up new wavelength ranges and new frontiers in data volume, e.g. the LOFAR project in the Netherlands, participation in international mm and sub-mm telescopes, e.g. ALMA, a United States of America, European and Japanese collaboration, extending the field of view of observations making powerful surveys easy, e.g. LOFAR and Apertif projects in the Netherlands, and further developing and extending the European very long baseline interferometry (VLBI) network, e.g. by the addition of the Sardinia radio telescope.

All of these add up to an unprecedented wide and deep view of the radio sky. When complete, these telescopes will allow surveys which probe fundamental cosmology, as well as individual objects with importance to physics and astrophysics. For example, studies of pulsars offer direct tests of strong gravitational fields and general relativity; studies of radio emission from galactic masers probe the process of star formation; and extragalactic observations can tell us about the process by which galaxies form and evolve. In the future, all of these avenues are likely to converge in the square kilometre array, likely to be completed sometime in the 2020s, in which it is important that Europe plays a major role.

The ESTRELA project existed to promote collaborative research in these exciting new areas by providing early stage training for young researchers at each of the six participating institutions. Each researcher worked in one of the fields expected to be opened up in the next decade and benefited not only from the expertise at their home ESTRELA node but by the procedure of spending some time at a different node, thus reinforcing collaborations, improving employment prospects and increasing coherence of the European long wavelength astronomy effort. Thirty three refereed journal papers were produced so far, and a total of 50 were likely, in fields including technical and telescope development, galactic and extragalactic long wavelength astrophysics and theoretical cosmology. In the process, fellows were exposed to observing techniques both at radio and at other wavelengths.

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United Kingdom
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