ERC Advanced Grant for astronomer Huub Röttgering
Astronomer Huub Röttgering, Director of the Leiden Observatory, has been awarded an ERC Advanced Grant to study how and when the first quasars, galaxies and galaxy clusters were formed.
Quasars are galaxies containing a very luminous object in their centre. The light from this object irradiates through matter which is falling in the direction of a massive black hole. Galaxy clusters consist of many thousands of galaxies and are the most massive objects in the universe. One of the most fundamental questions in astronomy is how and when galaxy clusters and quasars were formed. Scientists are increasingly coming to the conclusion that the formations of the two kinds of systems go hand in hand.
For his research, Röttgering will be using LOFAR. LOFAR (Low Frequency Array) is a revolutionary new radio telescope which is being built in the Netherlands. The telescope consists of 25,000 antennae spread over 48 fields in the north of the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, France and England. LOFAR will make it possible to make uniquely sensitive observations a the lowest radio frequencies. The analysis of these observations is expected to provide new insights into the role of cold and hot gas and magnetic fields in the formation of galaxy clusters and quasars.
The European Research Council (ERC) awards Advanced Grants to eligible excellent researchers who defended their thesis a minimum of nine years ago and who intend to use the grant to carry out pioneering research. The maximum amount of the grant is 3.5 million euro. Other Leiden astronomers who have also beenawarded an Advanced Grant are Ewine van Dishoeck, Xander Tielens and Marijn Franx.
(20 December 2012/HR/CH)