Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences

Black Holes Consortium receives significant funding from NWO

26 Nov 2020 14:45 | Centre for Applied Research in Education

The Dutch Black Holes Consortium (Dutch: Zwarte Gaten Consortium) has been allocated 4.9 million euros by the Dutch Black Holes Consortium as part of the Dutch Research Agenda. Together with universities of applied sciences including AUAS, the consortium will, among other things, create new teaching materials aimed at interesting people from all backgrounds – and children in particular – in science.

The new interdisciplinary consortium will further unravel the enigmas surrounding black holes and the mysteries of the universe. Astronomers and physicists are combining forces to make new discoveries and geologists are ‘delving into the earth’ for the potential underground construction of the Einstein Telescope.
Lead applicant Stefan Vandoren of Utrecht University: ‘This is an exceptional project that allows us to combine research, technology and the interests of society.’

The Dutch Black Holes Consortium

The Dutch Black Holes Consortium is made up of researchers in the fields of theoretical physics, astronomy, geology and meteorology, technicians working on the next generation of gravity detectors and researchers from science communication and the history of science in combination with teacher training courses and museums.

Einstein Telescope

By contributing to the development of the advanced Einstein Telescope, the consortium is paving the way for future research into gravitational waves. The infrastructure for this telescope could be built below-ground in the border area of the province of Zuid-Limburg. To investigate the possibilities for this, the Geological Survey of the Netherlands – part of TNO (the Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research) – is conducting a survey of the ground in partnership with the Province of Limburg and commercial partners. In addition, the consortium will test current theoretical insights into black holes with data from, among others, the gravitational wave detectors Virgo and LIGO and the Event Horizon Telescope. It will also further develop the latest ideas concerning black holes and the nature of gravity.

Educational programme

The consortium will present the project to the rest of society through exhibitions in the Boerhaave museum and Continium discovery centre. At the same time, the consortium’s education experts will translate the latest findings into an educational programme. They are developing and researching new teaching materials, including an interactive digital tool aimed at promoting the learning of scientific thought, training teachers in primary and secondary education, as well working with a range of educational partners such as In addition, a Citizen Science project is being set up using data from the BlackGEM telescopes.

These telescopes will search for flashes of light from gravitational wave events.

Joint main applicant Peter Jonker (Radboud University & SRON): ‘The exceptional thing about this project is that we create an interaction between carrying out research and preparing for future research. We are helping prepare for the construction of the Einstein Telescope, for example, while at the same time studying black holes, thereby inspiring the next generation who will use this telescope.’ The consortium consists of 31 applicants from universities and universities of applied sciences, as well as 6 partners from industry, museums and government bodies.

Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences’s Contribution

AUAS researcher Joanna Holt (a member of the Science and Mathematics Education research group at the Faculty of Education) is co-leader of the work package ‘Research into black holes within the context of schools and teacher training’. AUAS is developing and researching a teaching package for primary school/transition year (age 10-12). Cutting-edge scientific research (including astronomy) provides a fascinating context within which to tackle various topics from the key areas. This is combined with the latest teaching methods from Nature and Technology teaching, which links up well with the current Minds-On project.

Two NWA projects granted

This is one of the projects granted finance within NWO’s Dutch Research Agenda programme. The BioClock consortium, of which Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences is a part, is also receivinga sizeable grant from the NWO.