For more than half a year, since May 2013, parents with young children benefit from a new service at MPE: the Institute now offers a parents office which provides a laptop workplace for parents, and toys as well as a bed and a changing table for children. The parents office is open to all MPE employees and IMPRS students with children, who need the room once in a while, e.g. on a day when their usual childcare is unavailable. It is located next to the print shop, in room 2C7.
From April 2014, a new group will study interstellar molecules and use them to explore the entire star and planet formation process at the MPE. Newly appointed director Paola Caselli will head the “Centre for Astrochemical Studies at MPE” or CAS@MPE, bringing together theorists, observers and laboratory scientists in one place.
Detailed observations of Ceres have revealed clear signatures of water on this asteroid. Moreover, it seems that the amount of water vapour varies along the asteroid’s orbit, with an increasing signature if Ceres passes closer to the sun.
MPE astronomers have used ESO's HARPS planet hunter in Chile, along with other telescopes around the world, to discover three planets orbiting stars in the cluster Messier 67. Although more than one thousand planets outside the Solar System are now confirmed, only a handful have been found in star clusters.
At the January AAS meeting, BOSS announced that they have measured the distance to galaxies more than six billion light years away to an accuracy of one percent. Together with information on the rate at which the Universe was expanding, these measurements allow MPE scientists to place powerful constraints on the properties of the mysterious Dark Energy.
On 5 November 2013 the ARGOS laser system has been successfully tested on the sky for the first time. From behind the secondary mirrors of the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), a bundle of laser beams was propagated into the night skies above Arizona.
The last of the eight mirror modules for the eROSITA X-ray telescope was completed on Friday, 8 November 2013. The MPE leads the development and construction of the entire telescope in an international cooperation.
For seven years it delivered outstanding results for science and technology on the International Space Station, now the successful plasma crystal laboratory PK-3 Plus entered the Earth's atmosphere beginning of November and burned up - and produced its last plasma, a hot one. In June the operational phase of PK-3 Plus ended with a last series of experiments and with a spectacular finish.
Unusual structures have been found in the central region of the Coma cluster. Observations with the X-ray satellites Chandra and XMM-Newton revealed remarkably long arms that tell astronomers about the collisions between Coma and other galaxy clusters over the last billion years.
Scientists at the MPE have produced the first detailed three-dimensional map of the stars that form the inner regions of our Milky Way, using publicly available VVV survey data from the science archive facility at ESO. They find a box/peanut shaped bulge with an elongated bar and a prominent X-structure.
During its five-year primary mission, NASA's Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope has given astronomers an increasingly detailed portrait of the universe's most extraordinary phenomena, from giant black holes in the hearts of distant galaxies to thunderstorms on Earth. But its job is not done yet. On Aug. 11, Fermi entered an extended phase of its mission -- a deeper study of the high-energy cosmos.