On 17 January 2018, the the US National Academy of Sciences announced that Ewine F. van Dishoeck, Leiden Observatory, Leiden University and Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, will receive the 2018 James Craig Watson Medal. She is recognized as a world leader in the fields of molecular astronomy and astrochemistry, employing observations, theory and experiments to improve our understanding of how molecules, stars and planets form.
Fermi GBM team receives 2018 Rossi Prize
Last week, the the High Energy Astrophysics division of the American Astronomical Society awarded the 2018 Rossi Prize to Dr. Colleen Wilson-Hodge and the Fermi GBM team, for "the discovery of Gamma-rays coincident with a neutron-star merger gravitational wave event. This confirmed that short gamma-ray bursts are produced by binary neutron-star mergers and enabled a global multi-wavelength follow-up campaign." The Gamma-Ray Burst Monitor was jointly developed and is jointly operated by MPE.
The next generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V) will move forward with mapping the entire sky following a $16 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The grant will kickstart a ground-breaking all-sky spectroscopic survey for a next wave of discovery, anticipated to start in 2020, just after the start of the all-sky survey by the MPE’s eROSITA X-ray telescope.
Astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory report the discovery of a spectacular extended jet from a young brown dwarf. With masses too low to sustain hydrogen fusion in their interiors, brown dwarfs occupy the mass range between stars and giant planets. While young stars are commonly found to launch jets that extend over a light year or more, this is the first jet with a similar extent detected from a brown dwarf. The result lends new insight into how sub-stellar objects form.
New observations of rotating galaxies at the peak epoch of galaxy formation, 10 billion years ago, surprisingly show that these massive, star-forming galaxies are completely dominated by baryonic or “normal” mass with dark matter playing a much smaller role in comparable regions of their outer disks than in the local universe. The international group of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics mapped the rotation curves of six galaxies to distances of ~65,000 light years from their centres and found that their rotation velocities are not constant but drop with radius. These findings are supported by observations of more than 200 further galaxies, where different estimates of their dynamical state also indicate a high baryonic mass fraction. In addition, the analysis shows that these early galaxies had a much thicker disk with turbulent motion accounting for part of the dynamical support. These findings are published in a paper in the journal Nature as well as three accompanying papers in the Astrophysical Journal.
Ein internationales Team von Astronomen, geleitet vom MPE, konnte mit dem Atacama Large Millimeter/Submillimeter Array (ALMA) in die nahe gelegene Galaxie NGC 6822 hinein zoomen. Die neuen ALMA-Beobachtungen zeigen die Struktur von Gaswolken mit Sternentstehung in einer derart hohen Detailfülle, dass es nun möglich ist, diese mit ähnlichen Regionen in unserer Heimatgalaxie zu vergleichen. Die Ergebnisse deuten darauf hin, dass die Physik der Sternentstehung in ursprünglichen Galaxien geringer Masse - den Bausteinen massereicherer Galaxien – dieselbe ist, wie in unserer eigenen Galaxie.
In 1995, a paper was published about ROSAT observations of dust scattering halos, which has now reached more than 1000 citations. This makes it the top ranking paper under more than 9000 publications that mainly deal with the “hot” topics in astrophysics, such as supernovae, neutron stars, black holes, quasars or galaxy clusters. Why did a side issue such as interstellar dust receive so much attention?
The Pan-STARRS project, including astronomers at the Max Planck Institutes for Astronomy in Heidelberg and for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, is publicly releasing the world’s largest digital sky survey today. The catalogue is based on 4 years of observations of 3/4 of the night sky and provides extensive information on more than 3 billion stars, galaxies and other sources.
An international team of astronomers has discovered a previously unknown major concentration of galaxies in the constellation Vela, which they have dubbed the Vela supercluster. Its gravitational attraction may have an important effect on the motion of our Local Group of galaxies including the Milky Way.
Recent high-resolution images of the giant elliptical galaxy NGC 5419 clearly show a double nucleus. The nature of this structure remained unclear until scientists of the MPE measured the velocities of the stars. A detailed analysis of the images and kinematic data suggests that this galaxy hosts two supermassive black holes at its centre, with a total mass of at least 7 billion solar masses and a separation of only some 200 lightyears.