CAS News and Highlights

Water trapped in dust grains from which the Earth formed can explain the current large amount of water on Earth. This is suggested by scientists from the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom, based on calculations and simulations. The research will appear in two articles in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. more

Ten observatories in six European countries teamed up for recent observations of a stellar occultation by the dwarf planet Haumea, which surprisingly show a narrow and dense ring orbiting the dwarf planet. In addition, the astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and more than 50 further institutions were able to constrain the size, shape and density of Haumea,which are closer to theoretical predictions than previous estimates but still puzzling. more

For the first time, an international team of astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) has observed a molecular outflow being launched from beyond the disk surrounding a young stellar object. Outflows carry away excess angular momentum and it has been proposed that these disk winds should be launched from a wide region in the protoplanetary disk. The recent observations now show that the outflows are asymmetric and that they are launched beyond the edge of the disk, at the position of the landing site of the in-falling material. more

The first release of results from the Green Bank Ammonia Survey (GAS) are now being published in the Astrophysical Journal. A team from the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, the University of Toronto and the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics are aiming to map all Gould Belt star-forming regions visible from the northern hemisphere in the light of key molecular tracers. Accompanying the first data release, this impressive image shows ammonia molecules in a filament along a star formation region in the Orion Nebula. more

Astronomers led by the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and using the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory report the discovery of a spectacular extended jet from a young brown dwarf. With masses too low to sustain hydrogen fusion in their interiors, brown dwarfs occupy the mass range between stars and giant planets. While young stars are commonly found to launch jets that extend over a light year or more, this is the first jet with a similar extent detected from a brown dwarf. The result lends new insight into how sub-stellar objects form. more

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

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

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

Birth of a star quartet

February 10, 2015

An international team of researchers has discovered something extraordinary in space: a new star system forming from parts of a filamentary gas cloud. more

Wie protostellare Scheiben entstehen

A rotationally supported disk can only form in a dense, collapsing cloud of gas and dust with a magnetic field, if 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 MPE 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
CAS laboratories achieve “First Light”

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
Birth of a star quartet

Birth of a star quartet

February 10, 2015

An international team of astrophysicists has witnessed a unique event: for the first time, researchers have discovered the formation of a quadruple star system from widely separated fragments of a filamentary gas cloud in the Perseus constellation.

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Astrochemical dating of a stellar nursery
An international research team led by scientists from the CRC 956 “Conditions and Impact of Star Formation” has used observations with SOFIA and APEX to date the core of an interstellar cloud that is forming a group of Sun-like stars. This work, to which scientists from the MPE contributed, is published in this week’s Nature journal. more
Bridging the gaps

Bridging the gaps

April 10, 2014

From April 2014, a new group will study interstellar molecules and use them to explore the entire star and planet formation process at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. Newly appointed director Paola Caselli will head the “Centre for Astrochemical Studies at MPE” or CAS@MPE, bringing together theorists, observers and laboratory scientists in one place. This unique combination of expertise is needed to finally make progress on the origin of organic molecules in space as well as our astrochemical origins.

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Starting 1st April 2014, Paola Caselli will take up a directorship at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics. So far, she held several research positions at the Harvard–Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, the University of California at Berkeley, the Harvard University, and the Osservatorio Astrofisico di Arcetri (INAF), and is currently part of the astrophysics group at Leeds University. Her main research interests are astrochemistry, galactic and extragalactic star and planet formation, molecular astrophysics and astrobiology.

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