All News (2011 - ....)

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Prof. Charles Townes, MPE external scientific member, dies at 99

January 27, 2015
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]
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Caught in the act: collision of two galaxy clusters ends almost deadly

January 15, 2015
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]
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First corrected images with ARGOS GLAO

December 11, 2014
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]
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Distinctions for Reinhard Genzel

November 25, 2014
For the excellence of his work in several areas of astrophysics, Reinhard Genzel was honoured with two distinctions: mid November, the Observatiore de Paris awarded him the title of Doctor Honoris Causa. Already one month earlier, at the beginning of October, he received the Grand Order of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany. [more]
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Gas cloud in the galactic centre is part of a larger gas streamer

November 24, 2014
In November, astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics presented new observations of the gas cloud G2 in the galactic centre originally discovered in 2011. These data are in remarkably good agreement with an on-going tidal disruption. As a complete surprise came the discovery that the orbit of G2 matches that of another gas cloud detected a decade ago, suggesting that G2 might actually be part of a much more extensive gas streamer. This would also match some of the proposed scenarios that try to explain the presence of G2. One such model is that G2 is originating from the wind from a massive star. [more]
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Astrochemical dating of a stellar nursery

November 17, 2014
An international research team led by scientists from the Coordinated Research Center (CRC) 956 “Conditions and Impact of Star Formation” at the University of Cologne has used observations made with the GREAT instrument on board the SOFIA aircraft observatory and the APEX telescope to date the core of an interstellar cloud that is forming a group of Sun-like stars. This work, to which scientists from the University of Helsinki as well as from the Max-Planck-Institutes for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) and Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) contributed, is published in this week’s Nature journal. [more]
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NOEMA in the search for our origins

September 22, 2014
The observatory on the Plateau de Bure is being expanded to become the most powerful radio telescope in the northern hemisphere [more]
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Planet Challenge

September 22, 2014
Lise Meitner award money used to develop educational iPad game [more]
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Close-up of a comet’s dust

September 16, 2014
As the Rosetta spacecraft moves closer to the comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko, scientists not only get more detailed images of the comet’s core but have also started to collect dust from its tail. COSIMA, one of Rosetta’s in-situ dust instruments, which was developed and built by a consortium led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, collected the first cometary grains on its targets at the end of August. [more]
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Sofja Kovalevskaja Prize brings Jason Dexter to the MPE

August 06, 2014
In early August, the Humboldt Foundation announced that Jason Dexter (currently at the University of California, Berkeley) will receive one of the most highly endowed scientific awards in Germany: this will enable the junior scientist to come to the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, where he will spend the next five years interpreting data of novel monitoring tools and testing general relativity near supermassive black holes. [more]
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Igniting a supernova explosion

July 31, 2014
High-energy observations with the INTEGRAL space observatory have revealed a surprising signal of gamma-rays from the surface of material ejected by a recent supernova explosion. This result challenges the prevailing explosion model for type Ia supernovae, indicating that such energetic events might be ignited from the outside as well – rather than from the exploding dwarf star’s centre. The scientists from the Max Planck Institutes for Extraterrestrial Physics and for Astrophysics present their findings in the current edition of Science to the astronomical community. [more]
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“Go ahead” for Athena!

June 27, 2014
ESA’s Science Program Committee (SPC) has selected the Athena project for its next large (€1bn-class) mission, due for launch in 2028. [more]