News and Recent Results

X-ray observatory XMM-Newton shows large scale plasma motion more

On June 11, NASA’s Fermi Gamma-ray Space Telescope celebrates a decade of using gamma rays, the highest energy form of light in the universe, to study black holes, neutron stars, and other extreme cosmic objects and events. MPE scientists use data from both instruments on-board Fermi, one of which was built jointly by MPE and other institutes. more

Yasuo Tanaka 1931-2018

January 30, 2018

Obituary by Joachim Trümper more

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. more

Simultaneous detections of a short Gamma-Ray Burst by Fermi/GBM, INTEGRAL, and as gravitational wave by LIGO/Virgo, followed by MPG/GROND multi-wavelength observations heralds the start of a new era in astronomy more

The National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina honors Joachim Trümper, Director Emeritus at the MPE, with the Cothenius Medal for his outstanding scientific lifetime achievement. The award will be presented to Joachim Trümper at the opening ceremony of the Annual General Meeting of the Leopoldina on Friday, 22 September 2017, in Halle (Saale). more

On the 23rd of June, 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 the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching. 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. The aim of the mission is to provide a complete survey of the sky in soft X-rays – with the data being broadcast to amateur astronomers - as well as observing the Earth’s upper atmosphere to discover an oxygen absorption line. more

CNES President Jean-Yves Le Gall and Kirpal Nandra, Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), have signed a memorandum of understanding on Germany’s contribution to the MXT and ECLAIRs instruments that CNES is developing for the French-Chinese SVOM astronomy mission. more

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? more

On 20 January 2017, the completed eROSITA X-ray telescope boarded a cargo plane and was transported from Munich, where it had been built at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, to Moscow. Like any other passenger, it had to pass customs before journeying onwards towards the premises of Lavochkin Association, in the Moscow suburb of Khimki, where it is expected to arrive on 25 January. There it will be further tested and integrated with the ‘SRG’ spacecraft in preparation for launch in spring 2018. It will then take another three months to arrive at its final destination, about 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. From there, eROSITA will produce a new map of the Universe in X-rays, revealing how the largest cosmic structures evolve. more


Igniting a supernova explosion

July 31, 2014

High-energy observations with the INTEGRAL space observatory have revealed a surprising signal of gamma-rays from the surface of material ejected by a recent supernova explosion. This result challenges the prevailing explosion model for type Ia supernovae, indicating that such energetic events might be ignited from the outside as well – rather than from the exploding dwarf star’s centre. The scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Extraterrestrial Physics and for Astrophysics present their findings in the current edition of Science to the astronomical community.



“Go ahead” for Athena!

June 27, 2014
ESA’s Science Program Committee (SPC) has selected the Athena project for its next large (€1bn-class) mission, due for launch in 2028. [more]


Swiftly moving gas streamer eclipses supermassive black hole

June 23, 2014

An international team of astronomers including researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has discovered that the supermassive black hole at the heart of the galaxy NGC 5548 has recently undergone strange, unexpected behaviour rarely seen in the heart of active galaxies. The researchers detected a clumpy gas stream flowing quickly outward and blocking 90 percent of the X-rays emitted by the supermassive black hole at the centre of the galaxy. This activity may provide new insights into the interaction of supermassive black holes and their host galaxies.



A New View into the Hot and Energetic Universe

November 28, 2013
ESA selects science theme for its next large mission [more]

eROSITA mirrors are done!

November 13, 2013

After more than seven years of development and construction, the last of the eight mirror modules for the eROSITA X-ray telescope was completed on Friday, 8 November 2013. The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics leads the development and construction of the entire telescope, including its various components, in an international cooperation.



Long arms reach out of giant cluster

September 20, 2013

Unusual structures have been found in the central region of the Coma cluster, a large collection of thousands of galaxies located about 300 million light years from Earth. Observations with the X-ray satellites Chandra and XMM-Newton led by Jeremy Sanders from Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics revealed remarkably long arms that tell astronomers about the collisions between Coma and other galaxy clusters over the last billion years.



Primary mission for Fermi complete, much more to come

August 23, 2013

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. This is a significant step toward the science team's planned goal of a decade of observations, ending in 2018. MPE scientists use data from both instruments on-board Fermi, one of which was built jointly by MPE and colleagues abroad.



Fermi/GBM Detects Brightest Gamma-Ray Burst in Decades

May 10, 2013

The Gamma-ray burst Monitor (GBM) onboard NASA’s Fermi satellite detected a very intense signal on 27 April from the brightest Gamma-Ray Burst (GRB) in decades. Several other space-based instruments including Fermi’s main instrument, the Large Area Telescope (LAT), discovered this event simultaneously. The GRB lasted so long that a record number of telescopes on the ground were able to catch it while space-based observations were still ongoing. The event is labeled GRB 130427A, indicating its date of occurrence.  



The turbulent youth of globular clusters

April 11, 2013

The massive stellar clusters accompanying our galaxies as well as other galaxies have passed through a more complex evolution than previously thought. New observations have found evidence for several generations of stars, which can now be explained by a research team from MPE, the observatory of the University of Geneva, and the French science organisation CNRS. In their scenario, some of the first generation stars are much more massive than the left-over stars seen today. Their fast evolution up to violent supernova explosions will have substantial influence on the formation of the following stellar generations.



Brilliant X-ray source in Andromeda galaxy identified as stellar mass microquasar

December 13, 2012

The Nova monitoring campaign in our neighbouring Andromeda galaxy yielded an extremely bright X-ray source, XMMU J004243.6+412519. Follow-up observations at radio wavelengths point at the existence of an energetic jet of particles ejected by the massive central object. This indicates that this source is indeed powered by a stellar-mass black hole gaining mass at a high rate, close to the theoretical maximum. By monitoring and analysing both the emission from the accretion disk and the material ejected in the jet, the astronomers can learn more about the processes around a stellar mass black hole.



1000 Bursts with Fermi!

October 01, 2012

On 21 September, the gamma-ray burst monitor (GBM) instrument onboard the Fermi satellite detected its 1000th cosmic explosion. It lasted for around 3 seconds, and consisted of a single large pulse of gamma-rays. Automatically detected by the GBM, an alert was sent to the ground that was then relayed to a worldwide team of astronomers just a few seconds later.



Patricia Schady receives Sofja Kovalevskaja Prize

August 22, 2012

This week, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation announced that Patricia Schady, astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), will receive the Sofja Kovalevskaja Prize. Financed by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research, the prize is awarded by the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation for the scientific achievements of exceptionally promising young scientists and young researchers from abroad to allow them to establish an independent junior research group at research institutions in Germany.



Three dimensional map of the Universe now available to everyone

August 08, 2012

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) has released the largest-ever three-dimensional map of massive galaxies and distant black holes, which will help astronomers explain the mysterious "dark matter" and "dark energy" that scientists know makes up 96 per cent of the universe. Early last year, the SDSS-III released the largest-ever image of the sky; the new data have begun to expand this image into a full three-dimensional map. "Data Release 9" (DR9), released last week, publically releases the data from the first two years of this six-year project.


<h3 class="title">Forschungsbericht 2014 - Max-Planck-Institut f&uuml;r extraterrestrische Physik</h3>
<h1>Our Solar System in X-rays &ndash; a novel view of our cosmic home</h1>
Solar system X-ray research has experienced a boost during the last two decades. Before 1996, Sun, Earth, Moon, and Jupiter were the only solar system X-ray sources known. Since then, this number has considerably increased, including now also Mercury, Venus, Mars, Saturn, the Jovian moons Io and Europa, the Io plasma torus, the rings of Saturn, two asteroids, as well as comets as an unexpected new class, and even the heliosphere itself. This article outlines the sequence of discoveries, describes how the X-ray emissions originate, explains their importance, and concludes with an outlook. more

On 29 April 2012, the Japanese Emperor awarded the "Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Neck Ribbon" to the German astrophysicist Professor Joachim Trümper. The former MPE Director is honoured for his outstanding contribution to scientific cooperation between Japan and German and for fostering staff exchanges over the course of many years of work. On 10 July 2012 the Japanese ambassador officially bestowed the Order to Trümper in Berlin.


How interstellar beacons could help future spacecraft find their way across the universe

April 12, 2012

The use of stars, planets and stellar constellations for navigation was of fundamental importance for mankind for thousands of years. Now a group of scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching have developed a new navigation technique using the periodic signatures of neutron stars. With this method, future spacecraft will be able to navigate across the universe - independently from Earth. Team member Prof. Werner Becker presented their work at the National Astronomy Meeting in Manchester end of March.


First ultraluminous source in Andromeda galaxy unmasked as stellar mass black hole

February 23, 2012

Detailed observations show that the first ultraluminous X-ray source detected in our neighbouring Andromeda galaxy is due to a stellar mass black hole swallowing material at very high rates. An international team of astronomers, including scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, have now published their findings in two papers. The emission of the ultraluminous source probably originates from a system similar to X-ray binaries in our galaxy with matter accreting onto a black hole, which is at least 13 times more massive than our Sun. Unlike X-ray binaries in our own Milky Way, however, this source is much less obscured by interstellar gas and dust, allowing detailed investigations also at low X-ray energies.


ROSAT – the end of an exceptional satellite

November 14, 2011
(1.June 1990 – 23. October 2011)

During the early morning hours of 23rd October 2011, at about 4 am CEST, the research satellite ROSAT plunged back to Earth and disappeared – without a trace – in the Indian Ocean. This was the last stage for one of the most successful satellite missions of X-ray astronomy. During its eight years of active live, the X-ray observatory ROSAT detected more than 150 000 mainly unknown X-ray sources; some 4000 scientists from 24 countries used its data for more than 4200 papers in refereed journals, which were cited over 140 000 times.



VLT Observations of Gamma-ray Burst Reveal Surprising Ingredients of Early Galaxies

November 02, 2011

An international team of astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has used the brief but brilliant light of a distant gamma-ray burst as a probe to study the make-up of very distant galaxies. Surprisingly the new observations revealed two galaxies in the young Universe that are richer in the heavier chemical elements than the Sun. The two galaxies may be in the process of merging. Such events in the early Universe will drive the formation of many new stars and may be the trigger for gamma-ray bursts.


Agreement on eROSITA data reached

October 19, 2011
German scientists ready for the hunt on dark energy [more]

Citation landmarks for two high-energy papers

September 20, 2011

As of mid-September, there are 1000 citations for each of two papers published by the high-energy group at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics: The ROSAT source catalogue and the paper describing the focal plane instruments for the three X-ray mirror systems on board the XMM-Newton satellite.


Skinakas Obseravatory celebrates 25th anniversary

July 26, 2011
The Skinakas Observatory has been in existence for 25 years and this was celebrated end of May on top of the Ida mountains. Founded in 1986 by the University of Crete, the Foundation for Research and Technology Hellas FORTH and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, it is used both for the training of students and basic astronomical research. Today the Skinakas Observatory has three telescopes: a 1.3m Ritchey Chrétien telescope, a 0.6m and a 0.3m telescope. The 0.6m fully robotic telescope is a joined project of the University of Crete and the University of Tübingen, Germany. [more]

Cosmic Explosion is New Candidate for Most Distant Object in the Universe

May 26, 2011

A gamma-ray burst detected by NASA's Swift satellite in April 2009 has been newly unveiled as a leading candidate for the most distant object in the Universe. At an estimated distance of 13.14 billion light years, the burst lies far beyond any known quasar and is potentially more distant than any previously known galaxy or gamma-ray burst. Multiple lines of evidence in favour of a record-breaking distance for this burst, known as GRB 090429B after the date when it was discovered (April 29, 2009), are presented in a paper by an international team of astronomers, including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), accepted for publication in the Astrophysical Journal.


An old galaxy cluster discovered in the young Universe

March 15, 2011

Astronomers working with data from several observatories, including the VLT and XMM-Newton, have discovered the most distant, mature galaxy cluster yet. The cluster is seen as it was when the Universe was only about a quarter of its current age. In contrast to other structures observed in the young Universe, this object is already in its prime, as is evident from its diffuse X-ray emission and evolved population of galaxies. This shows that fully-grown galaxy clusters were already in place this early in cosmic history.


A Window to the Past:

In the following frame, all news  from the High-Energy Astrophysics group before February 2011 are made available in the format prior to the release of the new MPE web site.

Please be aware that some of the links may not be functioning anymore!


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