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Studying the universe to learn who we are

In partnership with The European Commission
Studying the universe to learn who we are
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Aurora Velez
Published on Updated
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Where do we come from? Is the universe infinite? René Vermeulen, Director of LOFAR, tells us how a European radio telescope is looking for the answers.

Where do we come from? How does LOFAR work as a consortium? Is the universe infinite? René Vermeulen, Director of LOFAR, tells us more about the European radio telescope looking for answers.

The age of the universe

The universe as such is more than 13 billion years old. We can go back at least 90% of that length of time and look at the objects and we can see them form.

We have indeed discovered pulsars, we have discovered black holes, we have discovered galaxies. When you make a wide survey of the sky, you discover all of those.

On pooling resources

The big vehicle we now have that we are working on that will probably come to be this year is called LOFAR ERIC (European Research Infrastructure Consortium) is a form of collaboration that the European Commission has defined about ten years ago as a way for countries in Europe to collaborate, to pool their resources, to pool their researchers, to pool their money.

What answers can we expect?

The question "Will LOFAR tell us whether the universe has an end or whether it's infinite?" is a very complicated question. 

What LOFAR can help with is to understand when the universe was very young, how did the first objects in the universe form? How quickly did they form? How much is there in the universe? How much matter is there? 

Those questions, they tell us something about how big is the universe in the end, and more importantly, what is going to happen to it. Not is it infinite now, but will it stay forever or will it re-collapse. 

I am not going to pretend LOFAR has the one and only answer. It needs lots of telescopes. We play a key role because our types of long radio waves have a unique diagnostic ability on some of the questions. We are an important part of the puzzle. We are not the only part of that puzzle.

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