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Several research areas (from cosmology and extra-galactic astrophysics to Galactic astronomy and solar system science) will benefit from the improved sensitivity and resolution of LOFAR over the present-day telescopes. Here you can find a brief summary of the expertise present at the MPA.

Epoch of Reionization

The reionization of the intergalactic medium (IGM) is one of the most important processes in cosmology and astrophysics. Not only it marks a significant phase change in the universe, but also it shapes the star and galaxy formation process. At present we only have available observations of the last stages of the process and of the global amount of electrons produced during reionization, but we are lacking any information on the reionization history and its sources. The 21cm emission line from neutral hydrogen in the IGM would provide invaluable information on the distribution and evolution of HI and would allow, for the first time, to map the temporal evolution of the reionization process.

The MPA is one of the international leading centers for cosmological large-scale structure formation, galaxy formation and cosmological radiative transfer simulations. MPA has expertise in the area of 21cm Epoch of Reionization signal prediction via numerical simulations, analytical descriptions and detailed assessment of the contaminating foreground signal.

The Epoch of Reionization LOFAR Key Science Project.

Cosmic Magnetism

Understanding the universe is impossible without understanding magnetic fields. They fill intracluster and interstellar space, affect the evolution of galaxies and galaxy cluster, contribute significantly to the total pressure of interstellar gas, are essential for the onset of star formation etc. etc. In spite of their importance, the evolution, structure and origin of magnetic fields are all still open problems in fundamental physics and astrophysics. The low-frequency bands of LOFAR will give access to objects with weak magnetic fields and/or less energetic cosmic-ray electrons, such as galaxy halos, galaxy clusters and intergalactic magnetic fields, by direct observation of diffuse polarized emission and by Faraday rotation of polarized background sources. MPA is a leading center and has a very strong expertise also in this field.


LOFAR requires enormous computational resources to collect, transfer, automatically annotate and store radio antenna data, and to compute scientifically interpretable information. Scalable and high performance distributed data storage and computing strategies will be essential to operate the data collection, analysis and distribution. The idea behind GRID computing is to provide a new level of worldwide information and computer resources and thus GRID technologies are suited to meet the expected computing requirements of LOFAR.

MPA will provide the software infrastructure needed to execute workflows. More in particular, in the context of Planck-Surveyor Mission and AstroGrid-D the Process Coordinator, a Workflow-Engine with integrated database for scientifical data processing, will be developed at MPA.

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