Astronomy professor Ger de Bruyn (University of Groningen Kapteyn Institute for astronomy and Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy Astron ) has been awarded EUR 3.35 million to look for the first stars in the Universe. He will undertake his search using the Dutch radiotelescope Lofar .
During the first few hundred million years the universe was mostly filled by an ‘ocean’ of neutral hydrogen. The first stars that came into existence emitted all types of radiation, including ultraviolet (UV) radiation. According to the current theory, this ionizing UV must have burnt huge holes in the neutral hydrogen ocean. Using Lofar, De Bruyn expects to be able to detect these holes – if the theory is correct. Studying the infant years of the Universe and the formation of the first stars was one of the main objectives behind the development of Lofar.
The multi-million research grant allows De Bruyn to build a new research group over the next five years. About EUR 0.9 million of the grant will be used to purchase a powerful computer cluster, which will be able to find the right information in the 1000 terabyte data stream that Lofar produces.
De Bruyn has received an ERC Advanced Grant, awarded by the European Research Council. It is the third time this largest individual European grant has been awarded to a University of Groningen astronomy professor. Previously, Thijs van der Hulst and Rafaella Morganti were awarded EUR 2.5 million each.
Source: press release University of Groningen and Astron
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