VIRAC’s 32 m radio telescope participates in e-VLBI observations with the European VLBI Network

Above: The 32 m radio telescope at Irbene, near Ventspils, Latvia. Image courtesy of VIRAC.

DWINGELOO, The Netherlands (2 April 2013) - On 19 March 2013, the 32 meter radio telescope at Irbene, operated by Ventspils International Radio Astronomy Center (VIRAC), took part in real-time, electronic Very Long Baseline Interferometry observations (e-VLBI) with successful results. The observations were organized by the European VLBI Network (EVN), a collaborative network of radio telescopes in Europe and beyond.

VIRAC, an engineering research institute of Ventspils University College, is an associate partner of the EVN and a full partner in EVN projects funded through the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme. The 19 March observation session was intended to demonstrate the Irbene station’s ability to take part in e-VLBI observations, and to strengthen cooperative ties with EVN partners.

The EVN conducts regular e-VLBI observation sessions. These often last up to 24 hours, during which each of the observatories streams data at a rate of 1Gbps to the Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE) in the Netherlands. There the data is processed and correlated in real-time, and processed results are available within a few seconds of the transmission of the data stream. e-VLBI's main advantage is that staff can monitor observations in real-time and identify whether the complex network of radio telescopes is running successfully during an observation.

Ten observatories participated in the 19 March observations, including: Effelsberg (DE), Jodrell Bank (UK), Noto and Medicina (IT), Onsala (SE), Yebes (ES), Torun (PL), Westerbork (NL), Hartebeesthoek (ZA) and Irbene (LV). Using the 5 GHz receiver on the 32 m radio telescope at Irbene, we observed three distant cosmic objects: quasars 3C454.3, 0234+285, and 0528+134. We obtained more than 1500 GB observation data, and the data transfer rate to JIVE was up to 1 Gbps.

The goal of the experiment was a complete success in its demonstration that the 32 m radio telescope at Irbene is fully operational for e-VLBI observations.

VIRAC gratefully acknowledges the support of its partners JIVE, the Ventspils City Council, Baltcom Fiber, and the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH Stockholm Tekniska Högskolan), and Stockholm (Sweden), who helped in providing the 1 Gbps connection from the Irbene radio telescope to the correlation center at JIVE.

These observations were made possible by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement RI-261525 NEXPReS.

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About JIVE
JIVE ( is a scientific foundation with a mandate to support the operations of the European VLBI Network. For this purpose it maintains, operates and develops the MkIV and SFXC EVN Data Processors, powerful supercomputers that can combine the signals from radio telescopes located across the planet. Through this technique called VLBI, astronomers can make detailed images of cosmic radio sources, providing astronomers with the clearest, highest resolution views of some of the most distant and energetic objects in the Universe.

About the EVN
The European VLBI Network (EVN, is a collaboration of the major radio astronomical institutes in Europe, Asia and South Africa that conducts unique, high resolution, radio astronomical observations of cosmic radio sources. It is the most sensitive VLBI array in the world, thanks to the collection of extremely large telescopes that contribute to the network. e-VLBI research infrastructure in Europe is supported by the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement RI-261525 NEXPReS.

Further information:

Valdis Avotins
Director of the Ventspils University College Engineering Institute "Ventspils International
Radio Astronomy Centre" (EI VIRAC)
+371 29240951
Valdis [dot] Avotins [at] venta [dot] lv

Huib Jan van Langevelde
Director, JIVE
+31 521-596524
langevelde [at] jive [dot] nl

Original Latvian press release on the VIRAC web site: VSRC sekmīgi piedalījies e-VLBI novērojumos starptautiskajā EVN tīklā

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