All News (2011 - ....)

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CGRO celebrates 25th anniversary

June 20, 2016
The heaviest astrophysical payload ever flown until then, the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory CGRO was one of the four “great observatories” of NASA with MPE contributing two of the four instruments on board. CGRO was launched on 5 April 1991 aboard the space shuttle Atlantis and on 23 June 2016, NASA will celebrate its discoveries at the highest energies in an official ceremony at the Goddard Visitor Centre. [more]
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Unexpected excess of giant planets in star cluster

June 17, 2016
An international team of astronomers have found that there are far more planets of the hot Jupiter type than expected in a cluster of stars called Messier 67. This surprising result was obtained after long-term observations using a number of telescopes and instruments, which led to the discovery of three giant planets. The denser environment in a cluster will cause more frequent interactions between planets and nearby stars, which may explain the excess of hot Jupiters. [more]
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First detections of the key prebiotic molecule PO in star-forming regions

May 31, 2016
An international group of scientists from the Arcetri Astrophysical Observatoryin Florence, the Center of Astrobiology in Madrid and the Max-Plank Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has detected for the first time the prebiotic molecule PO in star-forming regions. This molecule plays a key role in the double helix structure of DNA, and is therefore directly linked to the origin of life in the Universe. [more]
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CAS laboratories achieve “First Light”

May 12, 2016
Two laboratory experiments built in the CAS group at MPE have now achieved “first light”. Both experiments are designed to support astronomical observations and astrochemical modeling of molecules by probing their rotational transitions in the laboratory. These laboratory studies enable the scientists to measure transition frequencies with high precision in the frequency range available at major long-wavelength telescopes such as IRAM NOEMA and ALMA. The new molecular studies in the CAS laboratories will be used as powerful new tools to understand the physical and chemical properties of interstellar clouds, where stars and planets form. [more]
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VIP visit during Girls' Day

April 28, 2016
Minister Müller visits MPE and talks with girls [more]
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Joachim Trümper receives Tycho Brahe Prize

April 15, 2016
In 2016, the European Astronomical Society honours former MPE director Prof. Joachim Trümper with the Tycho Brahe Prize in recognition of his visionary development of X-ray instrumentation, from balloon experiments and the discovery of cyclotron lines probing the magnetic field of neutron stars to his leadership and strong scientific involvement in the ROSAT mission. [more]
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Galaxy with a huge black hole is a hermit

April 06, 2016
The most massive black holes are not confined to the highest density regions in the universe as a new discovery in a galaxy close to our Milky Way shows. An international team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, the USA, and Canada analysed observations from a survey of massive early-type galaxies and found that the black hole at the centre of the group galaxy NGC 1600 has a mass 17 billion times larger than our Sun, one of the most massive black holes found to date. Moreover, the analysis shows that the distribution of stars near the centre of the galaxy is rather diffuse and that the size of this region extends over the same radius as the gravitational sphere of influence of the black hole. [more]
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A new view of the X-ray sky

March 22, 2016
Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) have revisited the all-sky survey carried out by the ROSAT satellite, to create a new image of the sky at X-ray wavelengths. Along with this a revised and extended version of the catalogue of bright and faint point-like sources will be released. The now published “2RXS catalogue” provides the deepest and cleanest X-ray all-sky survey to date, which will only be superseded with the launch of the next generation X-ray survey satellite, eROSITA, currently being completed at MPE. [more]
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Gamma rays reveal pair plasma from a flaring black hole binary system

February 29, 2016
ESA’s INTEGRAL observatory saw the microquasar V404 Cygni flaring in June last year, which helped a team of astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics to discover electron-positron pair plasma from the black hole’s immediate surrounding. In such a binary system, a stellar black hole swallows matter from a companion star, but also ejects a two-sided jet. An accretion disk can be seen in X-ray emission, while radio observations show escaping plasma clouds in jets far out. The relation between accretion and ejection is completely unknown, as are processes which happen close to the black hole. Radiation near the black hole should be energetic enough to produce electrons and their anti-matter partners, the positrons, creating so-called ‘pair plasma’. The INTEGRAL data now showed a clear signature of this materialisation of radiation into pair plasma, as the escaping positrons emit a characteristic gamma-ray signal. This was discovered by the Max Planck scientists. [more]
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First Light For Future Black Hole Probe

January 13, 2016
Successful commissioning of GRAVITY at the VLTI [more]
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MPE contribution to Euclid takes next hurdle

December 16, 2015
The complex optics being developed at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics for the near-infrared instrument NISP aboard the Euclid space telescope has passed its Critical Design Review and will now enter the construction phase. From 2020 onwards and with the help of this instrument as well as an imaging camera for visible light, the Euclid satellite is expected to map the universe more accurately than ever before. Scientists will thus be able to track the history of the universe more accurately and to get valuable insights into the mysterious components of the universe, "dark energy" and "dark matter". [more]
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Roland Diehl nominated Fellow of the American Physical Society

October 27, 2015
In its September meeting, the American Physical Society (APS) nominated MPE senior scientist Roland Diehl for a Fellowship. This is recognition of his outstanding contributions to astrophysics, in particular for his observations of gamma-ray radiation from radioactive elements in space, and his pioneering contributions to gamma-ray telescopes and analysing gamma-ray observations in general. [more]