New observations of the giant elliptical galaxy, Messier 87, have revealed that it has swallowed an entire medium-sized galaxy over the last billion years. For the first time a team of astronomers at MPE and other institutes has been able to track the motions of 300 glowing planetary nebulae to find clear evidence of this event.
The Milky Way’s bar is longer, thinner, and ends closer to the Sun than previously thought. Combining several large stellar surveys, scientists at the MPE have now mapped the complete inner region of our Galaxy, containing the majority of its stars.
A systematic study of all massive galaxy clusters in the local universe provides information on the lightest elementary particles: Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics analysed an X-ray catalogue to show that there is less structure in the universe today than what is expected from the cosmic microwave background observations of the very early universe. This discrepancy can be explained, if the three neutrino families have an overall mass of about half an electron-volt.
An international team of astrophysicists has witnessed a unique event: for the first time, researchers have discovered the formation of a quadruple star system from widely separated fragments of a filamentary gas cloud in the Perseus constellation.
Recent observations of the galaxy cluster RXCJ2359.5-6042 with the XMM-Newton space observatory reveal evidence for an ongoing merger that strips the smaller system of much of its gas. The analysis of the data by MPE scientists, however, also shows that the compact core of the infalling cluster has survived this encounter so far.
In November, astronomers at the MPE presented new observations of the gas cloud G2 in the galactic centre originally discovered in 2011. These data are in remarkably good agreement with an on-going tidal disruption. As a complete surprise came the discovery that the orbit of G2 matches that of another gas cloud detected a decade ago, suggesting that G2 might actually be part of a much more extensive gas streamer.
An international research team led by scientists from the CRC 956 “Conditions and Impact of Star Formation” has used observations with SOFIA and APEX to date the core of an interstellar cloud that is forming a group of Sun-like stars. This work, to which scientists from the MPE contributed, is published in this week’s Nature journal.