All News (2011 - ....)

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No evidence for sterile neutrinos in galaxy clusters

September 05, 2016
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 – while other galaxy clusters do not feature such a line, but it could not be ruled out either. 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. [more]

"Max Planck Partner Group" in Chile studies the galactic centre

August 25, 2016
Jorge Cuadra at the Astrophysics Institute of the Universidad Católica de Chile now leads one of the forty 'Max Planck Partner Groups' that exist around the world. The award includes a grant to work on research topics about the centre of our Galaxy. [more]
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1.2 Million Galaxies in 3D

July 14, 2016
What are the properties of Dark Energy? This question is one of the most intriguing ones in astronomy and 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 the Max Planck Institutes for Extraterrestrial Physics and for Astrophyics - 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. [more]
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Behind the scenes of protostellar disk formation 

July 11, 2016
For a long time the formation of protostellar disks – a prerequisite to the formation of planetary system around stars – has defied theoretical astrophysicists: In a dense, collapsing cloud of gas and dust, the magnetic field would be dragged to the centre as well resulting in a braking effect. Hardly any rotationally supported disk can form this way, unless 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 Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics 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. [more]
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The ideal black hole laboratory

June 21, 2016
Successful observations with GRAVITY and the ESO 8m Very Large Telescopes [more]
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MERAC Prize for Oliver Pfuhl

June 21, 2016
The European Astronomical Society (EAS) awards the 2016 MERAC Prize for the Best Doctoral Thesis in the category “New Technologies” to MPE scientist Oliver Pfuhl for his thesis on an innovative design of two subsystems for the VLTI instrument GRAVITY: the fibre coupler and the guiding system. The MERAC Prize Committee was impressed by the high quality of the nominated candidates for the three MERAC Prizes of 2016. The official ceremony will take place during the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) to be held in Athens, Greece on 4 – 8 July 2016. [more]
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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]