A review of the European Very-Long-Baseline Interferometry Network (EVN) and its Joint Institute for VLBI in Europe (JIVE) conducted by the European Science Foundation (ESF) concludes that the European radio astronomy network is producing very high quality science with a convincing impact on the scientific knowledge of cosmic phenomena.

The European VLBI Network consists of 16 radio telescopes located in 9 European countries plus collaborative sites located in the USA, Russia, China, as well as a space borne antenna on a Japanese satellite. For the synchronised joint observation of a single radio-emitting subject in the universe, the participating facilities are linked together and act as a single distributed radio telescope. This large telescope can make spectacularly detailed pictures of stars and galaxies at radio frequencies, with a sharpness equivalent to photographing a golf-ball on the moon. The central data processor for this research is run by JIVE which is located in the Netherlands. There are approximately 500 potential users for the data in Europe.

The radio telescopes and related research infrastructures comprising the EVN involve a capital investment of approximately 300 M Euro, the annual VLBI operating costs are 6.3 M Euro, and the JIVE institute has an annual operating cost of 1.3 M Euro. Agreements for funding the operations of JIVE are due for renewal in many of the contributing countries in 2000 and 2001.

The ESF review gives the EVN/JIVE network high marks for its scientific performance and its future role in the exploration of the universe. In particular, the review highlights the role played by this high resolution instrument over a wide spectrum of astronomical research areas from disks of gas swirling around newly forming stars to the black holes in the centres of distant galaxies. The review also highlighted the need for a re-examination of the policy and legal foundations of the JIVE institute in order to put the operational funding on a secure long-term footing.

For more Information contact Hans Karow (ESF) by E-mail: hkarow@esf.org
The complete review report can be downloaded from ESF¥s homepage at: http://www.esf.org/ftp/pdf/Pesc/EVN_JIVE.pdf

Notes for Editors

Notes for editors: The European Science Foundation is the European association of 67 major national funding agencies devoted to scientific research in 23 countries. The ESF assists its member organisations in two main ways: by bringing scientists together in its scientific programmes, networks, exploratory workshops and European research conferences, to work on topics of common concern, and through the joint study of issues of strategic importance in European science policy.