APERTIF Science projects and teams

The improvement of the field of view of the WSRT means that one can survey large areas on the sky much faster compared to the current system. A project that would take a century with the current WSRT will take only a few years with Apertif! This enormous improvement will enable all kinds of new types of astronomical research. Key science projects envisaged for Apertif are:

Evolution of the HI content of galaxies

One of the great puzzles in current astronomy is that the rate at which new stars are born has been decreasing steadily for the last several billion years. It is not clear why this is happening, but it must be related to the amount of gas in and around galaxies. New stars form from gas so if fewer stars are born, this must be somehow connected to decreasing gas supplies. However, very little observational information is available about this. With Apertif it will be possible to determine the gas content of more than a million galaxies over this period of decreasing star formation and to study in detail what the role of dwindling gas supplies is in this process.

Pulsars and Fast Radio Transients

Apertif will make the WSRT a very effective fast-transient search machine. In general, the problem with arrays of radio telescopes for searching the sky to find new pulsars and transients is the limited field of view of the array beam. However, because the WSRT is a linear (i.e. purely east-west) array, combined with the fact that the spacing's between the antennae of the array is regular (i.e. most of the dishes are 144 m apart, the WSRT+Apertif does not have this limitation. Using a dedicated, high-power "beam former" and transient-search compute cluster, Apertif can exploit the full field of view to search for fast transients and pulsars.

Continuum surveys

Because of the large field of view, the entire sky can be imaged with high spatial resolution and good sensitivity. With Apertif more than 10 million continuum sources will be detected, giving information about how star formation changed with cosmic time, and about how the population of active galaxies (i.e. galaxies with super massive black holes) evolves. An interesting aspect is, given the sensitivities of APERTIF and LOFAR, that such a survey matches very well with similar surveys done with LOFAR. Most of the sources detected with LOFAR will also be detected with Apertif.

 

 

Magnetic fields

Because so many continuum sources will be detected, one can also study the magnetic fields in these sources, and such fields along the line of sight between these sources and us. This will allow astronomers to map the magnetic field in our own galaxy with unprecedented detail.

 

List of projects from the survey teams.

Information on joining Apertif can be found here.
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