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]
The Milky Way’s bar is longer, thinner, and ends closer to the Sun than previously thought. Combining several large stellar surveys, scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have now mapped the complete inner region of our Galaxy, containing the majority of its stars. Because the bar is also oriented more towards the Sun, it ends much closer to us, and therefore has a greater influence on the motion of stars near the Sun.The Milky Way’s bar also gets thinner away from the centre of the galaxy. Near the end of the bar it becomes so thin that the scientists have termed the bar super-thin, and believe that the thinness of this new component is probably related to younger stars that were born with low velocities about one billion years ago.
The Galaxies Research Group in the Department of Astronomy at UT Austin has elected MPE researcher Stijn Wuyts to receive the 2014-15 Beatrice Tinsley Research Scholar Award. This competitive award includes an invitation for a stay in Texas and to give a special talk at the University of Texas, Austin. [more]
On 29 April, Reinhard Genzel will receive the „2014 Harvey Prize in the field of Science & Technology” from the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, in Haifa. The Harvey Prize rewards excellence by recognizing breakthroughs in science and technology and this year is awarded jointly to the director of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, Prof Reinhard Genzel, and the cancer researcher, Prof James P. Allison. Genzel is honoured for developing novel astronomical detectors and using them to prove that there resides a supermassive black hole at the centre of our Milky Way. [more]
A systematic study of all massive galaxy clusters in the local universe provides information on the lightest elementary particles: Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics analysed an X-ray catalogue to show that there is less structure in the universe today than what is expected from the cosmic microwave background observations of the very early universe. This discrepancy can be explained, if the three neutrino families have an overall mass of about half an electron-volt. [more]
Charles Hard Townes, professor emeritus of physics at the University of California, Berkeley, and external scientific member of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, who shared the 1964 Nobel Prize in Physics for the invention of the laser and subsequently pioneered the use of lasers in astronomy, died early Tuesday, 27 Jan. 2015. [more]
Recent observations of the galaxy cluster RXCJ2359.5-6042 with the XMM-Newton space observatory reveal evidence for an ongoing merger that strips the smaller system of much of its gas. The analysis of the data by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE), however, also shows that the compact core of the infalling cluster has survived this encounter so far. This bullet-like cluster goes right through the central region of the main cluster without being disrupted, but is stripped of its layers outside the core. [more]
The ARGOS Ground Layer Adaptive Optics (GLAO) system for the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona reached another important milestone at the end of November: using all three laser guide stars, the astronomers were able to achieve an impressively good correction on the whole field of LUCI2. [more]