The most visible element in the transition process was the inauguration ceremony on April 21st, 2015 and the international workshop during the preceding days. Many international radio astronomy experts came to Dwingeloo for this event. During the workshop the past and future scientific impact of VLBI was highlighted. The programme included a number of historic accounts, followed by a wide range of scientific reviews. The workshop concluded with strategic visions of VLBI developments from five continents.
The inauguration event itself staged representatives from the EVN and JIVE partners, the hosting agency NWO and the Dutch ministry. They were given the opportunity to talk about the significance of JIVE and its transition into a truly European entity during a highly interactive programme. The host of the programme also interviewed a number of researchers from the EVN/JIVE user community, who highlighted some of the most exciting science results. Finally, director-general Robert-Jan Smits of DG Research and Innovation of the EC handed the ERIC plaque to JIVE. In the presence of all of the Council members of the new ERIC, the new logo for JIVE was revealed.
Representatives of the JIVE partners in front of the new logo.
With the ERIC status, JIVE will be able to profile itself as a European organisation, although the aim is to deliver almost the same functionality as before for the EVN telescopes and their users. In 2015 the most urgent of MOUs and contracts were concluded, allowing the administrative year 2015 to be concluded under the flag of the new ERIC legal entity. In addition some good progress was made regarding the partnerships of JIVE. Spain, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Sweden and France are the actual JIVE members. Arrangements were made with Italy and South Africa, who had expressed an interest in becoming members. MOAs with Germany and China were extended, with an intention for further collaborations in the future. Importantly, the ERIC concluded an MOA with NWO, which formalises the secondment of personnel to JIVE.
Year after year the core business of JIVE is data correlation and user support for the EVN. Close to a hundred observing projects are processed per year and have their data released to the users. The SFXC platform that is used for this was upgraded with several new capabilities for wide-field imaging and pulsar processing, but also in order to deal with the mixed bandwidth modes that result from the proliferation of digital backend systems.
Maintaining and upgrading the SFXC is only one of a wide variety of topics addressed by the JIVE engineers. Besides correlators, the team also works on data acquisition systems being used at the telescopes and correlators, as well as data transport methods. The FlexBuff system was tested and put into operation for a few stations, which now have sufficient storage capacity to operate without ever shipping any disks any more.
Much of the development work was project-based, funded by the EC and NWO. One example of such an EC-funded project is ASTERICS, led by ASTRON, which aims at implementing cross-cutting services and solutions for astronomical ESFRI facilities and Research Infrastructures. This very large project kicked off in May 2015 with JIVE leading one of its work packages. JIVE was also in charge of the UniBoard2 work package in RadioNet3. And JIVE experts were involved in engineering work for the SKA on signal and data transport, through the Roadmap project funded by NWO. JIVE also returned, after a hiatus of several years, to the development of user software. This was carried out in the context of the ERC-funded BlackHoleCam project, which aims to image the shadow of the black hole at the centre of our galaxy at very high frequencies.
A special branch of JIVE is specialised in VLBI for space applications. The team worked on refining the methods for correlating RadioAstron data by also observing the RadioAstron spacecraft with VLBI. In 2014 they were involved in an observation of the Phobos flyby of the Mars Express, measuring precisely the gravitational changes to the trajectory of the probe. This work will be the basis for very visible participation in future missions, notably ESA’s JUICE mission planned to be launched in 2022.
Comparison of the 5 GHz VLBI structure of J1026+2542 as observed in 2006 with the VLBA and in 2013 with the EVN, with the superluminal components indicated. Frey, Paragi, Fogasy, Gurvits (2015), MNRAS, 446, 2921
Besides supporting the science of the EVN users, the JIVE scientists also undertake their own science projects. They work on a variety of different topics such as measuring dynamics, distances and magnetic fields in massive young stellar objects, for example through methanol masers. There is also a keen interest in all kinds of transient, originating in galactic stellar remnants or cosmic explosions. And of course JIVE is involved in studies of Active Galactic Nuclei and the physics of black holes and how they are fuelled to produce bright radio jets.