All News (2011 - ....)

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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 The now published “2RXS catalogue” provides the deepest and cleanest X-ray all-sky survey to date, which will only be superseded with the launch of the next generation X-ray survey satellite, eROSITA, currently being completed at MPE.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]
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Kick-off for a new era of precision astronomy

October 06, 2015
Start of the Preliminary Design Phase for the MICADO camera for the E-ELT [more]
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CSI: The heart of the Milky Way

August 19, 2015
An international team of astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics has been scouring cosmic images of X-ray emission, hunting for elusive clues that reveal the culprit responsible for violent acts that have left deep scars on the heart of the Milky Way. The prime suspect is the supermassive black hole lurking at the centre of the Milky Way, with a number of massive stars also implicated as suicide bombers. [more]
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Treasure hunting in archive data reveals clues about black holes’ diet

July 23, 2015
Using archival data from the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, as well as from the XMM-Newton and Chandra X-ray telescopes, a team of astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have discovered a gigantic black hole, which is probably destroying and devouring a big star in its vicinity. With a mass of 100 million times more than our Sun, this is the largest black hole caught in this act so far. The results of this study are published in this month’s issue of the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. [more]
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Giant Galaxy is Still Growing

June 25, 2015
Messier 87 has swallowed an entire galaxy in the last billion years [more]
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Two international awards for Ewine van Dishoeck

June 19, 2015
The World Cultural Council honours Ewine van Dishoeck, Professor for molecular Astrophysics at the Leiden University and External Scientific Member of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), with this year’s Albert Einstein World Award of Science. This prize is awarded to scientists for their outstanding achievements, which bring scientific progress and benefit to mankind. Furthermore, the European Astronomical Society (EAS) elected Ewine van Dishoeck as the Lodewijk Woltjer Lecturer 2015. In this capacity she will give a lecture at the European Week of Astronomy and Space Science (EWASS) at the end of June. The EAS recognizes with the prize her outstanding career, especially her work in the field of star- and planet-formation. [more]
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X-ray eyes on the sky

June 15, 2015
ROSAT was launched 25 years ago [more]