Hi again!

This week myself and Amy have been very busy working on different projects. Most of my time has been spent on building a new I-LOFAR Monitoring Website. The purpose of making this website is to provide researchers (and the public) with real time telescope data in the form of spectra.

A spectrum is simply a chart/graph that shows the intensity of light being emitted over a range of energies of light, ranging from low-energy radio waves to very high energy gamma rays. In the case of I-LOFAR we are focused on the low energy radio waves; hence the name LOFAR (Low-Frequency Array). An example of such graph can be seen below:

Spectra from I-LOFAR telescope

You may notice that there are gaps in the above graph, notably between the frequencies of 90-110 MHz and 180 to 210 Mhz, in the first case this can be explained due to that range being used for FM radio.

This website will allow our researchers to constantly keep an eye on the observations made by the telescope, which can then be conveniently viewed on the website. The website will also include a section showing status information on each of the actual antennae making up the telescope, indicating if the individual antennae are fully functional and facilitating early detection of malfunctions.

This project is very exciting for me, as it will allow me (and already has) to develop my coding skills and to familiarise myself with new programming languages. I had never used HTML, CSS, and JavaScript so it’s great to get some new exposure to these languages. Now luckily for me the previous interns have already done a lot of work on different aspects of this project, the challenge is now for me to bring all their work together and finalise everything. For this project i am collaborating with a PhD student, who can assist me if I run into any issues and offer guidance.  Being surrounded by friendly, attentive and learned colleagues provides a very stimulating environment conducive to my development both as an individual and as an astrophysicist. A quote from Newton comes to mind which reflects my environment:

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants”


Public Engagement and Education:

A big part of my role this summer will also involve educating people on the role of I-LOFAR and the type of research being carried out. We are working very hard to adapt to the limitations of the pandemic, but luckily for us, we live in a digital age and so we hope to reach out to people through a range of virtual tours, virtual camps and much more! Amy has also been making plenty of new lesson plans and CPD resources which will then be shared on the website to the public, so even in these strange times, one way or another we will manage to continue spreading knowledge and inspire others to look to the stars.

Check back next week to learn about what Amy is working on!

Blog post written by NathanSimoncini.