The amateur satellite "MaxValier Sat" was successfully launched into an Earth orbit on an Indian rocket. On board: the miniature X-ray telescope μROSI, which was built by MPE. Intensive work had been carried out in South Tyrol, Munich and Bremen to get all instruments ready. The MaxValier satellite is a unique cooperation between academic research, the aerospace industry and the commercial schools in Bolzano and Merano.
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.
For the past couple of years, there has been a heated debate between astronomers: Some authors claim to have seen an unidentified emission line in the spectra of galaxy clusters that could be linked to so-called sterile neutrinos, one of the particle candidates for dark matter. A recent analysis of archive Chandra X-ray data on 33 galaxy clusters, however, shows no sign of this line and presents tight upper limits on the properties of such dark matter.
What are the properties of Dark Energy? Scientists are one step closer in answering this question with the largest three-dimensional map of the universe so far: This map contains 1.2 million galaxies in a volume spanning 650 cubic billion light years. Hundreds of scientists from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) – including researchers at MPE and MPA - used this map to make one of the most precise measurements yet of dark energy. They found excellent agreement with the standard cosmological model and confirmed that dark energy is highly consistent with a cosmological constant.
A rotationally supported disk can only form in a dense, collapsing cloud of gas and dust with a magnetic field, if the tiny grains are removed from the cloud by growing or coagulating into bigger grains. This is the result from a new study published by researchers at the MPE and other institutions. The more realistic simulations now take into account non-ideal magneto-hydrodynamics and ionization chemistry to form a rotationally supported protostellar disk.