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.
Recent observations of globular clusters with the VIRUS-W instrument at the McDonald observatory revealed a rotation signal at the centre of these huge agglomerations of stars. In addition, the astronomers found that the rotation axis agrees with the slight elongation found for some of the clusters, indicating that this flattening is caused by rotation.
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.