World’s Biggest Radiotelescope Unveiled

Researchers in the Netherlands officially launched the biggest radiotelescope on the planet yesterday, stating it was able to uncover weak signals from almost as far back as the Big Bang.

The LOFAR (LOw Frequency ARray) is made of 25,000 little antennas approximately between 50 centimetres and 2 metres across, rather than a conventional large dish, said Femke Boekhorst of the Netherlands Radioastronomy Institute. It is structured close to the northeastern Dutch town of Assen, however the antennas are dispersed across the rest of the Netherlands as well as in Germany, Sweden, France and Britain.

“Today we have launched the biggest radiotelescope in the world. When you combine all the antennas you get a giant telescope with a diameter of about 1,000 kilometres (600 miles),” Boekhorst told AFP. “The observations that we will be able to make will allow us to learn more about the origin of the universe, back to the moment right after the Big Bang,” she added.

The information collected by the telescope will be handled by a supercomputer at the university of Groningen after which transported to the institute.

(c) 2010 AFP

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