Washington, June 15 : The world''s largest radio telescope, LOFAR, has officially been launched, raising scientists'' hopes of unravelling the hidden mysteries of the universe.
The giant telescope, unveiled by Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands last weekend, will help find when the early universe was first lit up, to probe the properties of energetic cosmic particles, to map magnetized structures all across the sky, and to monitor the Sun''s activity as well as a wide range of variable and explosive celestial objects.
The inauguration ceremony took place in the central LOFAR area of about 400 hectares between Exloo and Buinen in the eastern part of Drenthe, the Netherlands.
The all-electronic, ''next generation'' telescope, developed by ASTRON, now offers astronomers the joint use of a network of antennas that spreads from its core region in the north-east of the Netherlands to distances of a thousand kilometers across Europe.
Dr. Rene Vermeulen, Director of the Radio Observatory at ASTRON, is delighted about the international collaboration.
He said: "With its European dimension LOFAR will serve a large international community of astronomers to study the Universe at the lowest frequencies accessible from the Earth in astounding detail."
LOFAR, the Low Frequency Array, is designed and built by ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy, part of the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO). (ANI)