Neutron stars as laboratories

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Astronomy symposium in Amsterdam: 'Latest Results from the Neutron-Star Laboratory'


From 6-10 May, astronomers from all over the world join in Amsterdam for a symposium about neutron stars. In debate centre Felix Meritis, they will discuss the most recent results of the research about neutron stars, collapsed cores of giant stars that have exploded as supernovas. Because of their extreme compact matter, neutron stars are excellent laboratories to explore extreme phenomena in space.

Neutron stars exist of matter with the highest densities in the Universe: make the radius of a neutron star smaller and it becomes a black hole. The strongest magnetic fields in the Universe can also be found in and around neutron stars and fast spinning neutron stars are the best cosmic clocks.

The reason for the meeting is the first scientific harvest of the LOFAR radio telescope, designed and built by ASTRON and built mainly in the Netherlands, and the latest status of observations of gravity waves using a group of fast spinning neutron stars. These measurements will test the gravity theory of Einstein and deliver a wealth of astronomical data.The astronomers will also discuss new important discoveries about giant magnetic fieldsin and around neutron stars, as well as the discovery of mysterious, short but powerful radio flashes from the Universe, that are thought to be connected to neutron stars.

In the meeting, the retirement of prof. dr. Wim Hermsen, influential SRON-scientist, will also be commemmorated. Some of the distiguished guests are scientists from theUSA, among whom prof. dr. Jim Lattimer, expert in the nature of matter in neutron stars; prof. dr. Duncan Lorimer, who was the first to discover the mysterious radio flashes, and prof. dr. Andrea Lommenwho wants toresearch gravity waves by measuring arrival times of the lighthouse-like pulses of radio light.

Another guest will be prof. dr. Alice Harding, who won the prestigious Rossi award last year for her research about pulsating neutron stars. Premier European scientists such as prof. Elena Amato and prof. Marie-Helene Grondindiscuss the influence of magnetic fields of neutron stars on the surrounding matter. Dutch speakers are, among others, dr. Jason Hessels (ASTRON) and prof. dr. Wim Hermsen (SRON). They will shed light on the results of the LOFAR telescope and ESA space telescopes INTEGRAL and XMM-Newton.


Date & location
The symposium 'Latest Results from the Neutron-Star Laboratory' takes place from 6-10 May in the debate centre Felix Meritis in Amsterdam. The meeting is organised by SRON Netherlands Institute for Space Research, Astronomical Institute Anton Pannekoek of the University of Amsterdam and ASTRON Netherlands Institute for Radio Astronomy. The website of the meeting is

More information
For more information, please contact Peter Jonker (SRON), chair of the scientific organisating committee, tel. 088-777 5877, email P [dot] Jonker [at] sron [dot] nl, or with SRON spokesman Frans Stravers, tel. 06-52679395.

The photo above shows an artist impression of a neutron star, its axis and rotation.

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