Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
Press Officer
Phone:+49 89 30000-3980Fax:+49 89 30000-3569

All News (2011 - ....)

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Observing the galaxy distribution when the universe was half its current age

March 30, 2012
Manchester, 30. March 2012 - At the UK-Germany National Astronomy Meeting NAM2012, the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) team today announced the most accurate measurement yet of the distribution of galaxies between five and six billion years ago. This was the key 'pivot' moment at which the expansion of the universe stopped slowing down due to gravity and started to accelerate instead, due to a mysterious force dubbed ”dark energy". The nature of this ”dark energy" is one of the big mysteries in cosmology today, and scientists need precise measurements of the expansion history of the universe to unravel this mystery – BOSS provides this kind of data. In a set of six joint papers presented today, the BOSS team, an international group of scientists with the participation of the Max Planck Institute of Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, Germany, used these data together with previous measurements to place tight constraints on various cosmological models. [more]
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Plasma research for future ion propulsion system for space

March 06, 2012
In an official ceremony late February, the MPE received a certificate as an associated partner in the LOEWE-priority project "RITSAT - ion propulsion system for space" presented by the Hessian Ministry of Science and Arts. The MPE, led by Prof. Markus Thoma from the "Theory and Complex Plasmas" group will participate in the project area "Plasma Modeling" to test and model new engine concepts with simulations. [more]
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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. [more]
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The Milky Way - tomography of a barred spiral galaxy

February 15, 2012
Our home galaxy, the Milky Way, is still enigmatic. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have now modelled the components in its interior, linking new observations of projected star counts with the three-dimensional distribution of the stars: in the middle of an elongated bulge, extending some 10 000 light-years across the Milky Way centre, there is a dense, almost round distribution of stars about 4000 light-years in diameter. Further out the bulge transforms into a bar reaching out to about 15 000 light years and interacting with the Milky Way's spiral arms. In the model, these components form naturally during the intrinsic development of a disk galaxy and consist of stars made originally in the disk. Our Milky Way therefore could have started out as a pure disk galaxy. [more]
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Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 2012 for Reinhard Genzel

January 19, 2012
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announced today that the Crafoord Prize in Astronomy 2012 will be jointly awarded to Reinhard Genzel from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Garching, and Andrea Ghez from the University of California, Los Angeles, USA "for their observations of the stars orbiting the galactic centre, indicating the presence of a supermassive black hole". [more]
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Linda Tacconi receives Lancelot Berkeley Prize

January 10, 2012
This week, Linda Tacconi will receive the "Lancelot M. Berkeley - New York Community Trust Prize for Meritorious Work in Astronomy" during the annual winter meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Austin, Texas. In her prize lecture, the MPE scientist will talk about how powerful millimetre telescopes can probe distant, massive galaxies to reveal that they were indeed rich in molecular gas and therefore formed stars much more rapidly than galaxies today. [more]
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Galactic Black Hole disrupts Gas Cloud

December 14, 2011
Over the next few years, astronomers will be able to observe first-hand how the super massive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way is being fed: an international team of astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has found a gas cloud that is falling towards the black hole in the galactic centre. While some distortion due to the huge gravitational pull of the black hole can already be seen, the gas cloud will be completely disrupted and ultimately swallowed by the black hole, resulting in largely increased X-ray emission. The observations and analysis are described in a Nature paper, published online on 14 December 2011. [more]
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Scharfe Augen für das VLT - NACO beobachtet seit zehn Jahren

November 25, 2011
Vor einem Jahrzehnt, am 25. November 2001, wurde das erste System mit adaptiver Optik am Very Large Telescope (VLT) der ESO installiert. Seitdem gehört die adaptive Optik zur Routine und erlaubt es den Astronomen am MPE und anderen Instituten mit scharfen Augen in den Himmel zu blicken und viele wichtige astronomische Entdeckungen zu machen. [more]
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Herschel meets asteroid – close encounter of the fast kind

November 16, 2011
It is the closest, fastest and smallest object so far seen by Herschel. In fact, such observations were not even foreseen due to technical constraints. The asteroid 2005 YU55 is moving on the sky with a speed exceeding by far Herschel's possibilities to track it. But with the help of a little trick scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and at the European Space Astronomy Centre in Spain were able to use Herschel to catch a glimpse of this asteroid shortly after it had crossed the Moon's orbit. With these observations the astronomers could determine some thermal and physical parameters. As it turned out, 2005 YU55 is somewhat smaller than had been assumed and probably might be a loose assembly of boulders, pebbles and dust. [more]
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ROSAT – the end of an exceptional satellite

November 14, 2011
(1.June 1990 – 23. October 2011) [more]
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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. [more]
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Agreement on eROSITA data reached

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