The Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) was founded 50 years ago, on 15 May 1963, and became a sub-institute of the MPI for Physics and Astrophsics. To commemorate this jubilee, the institute takes a look back at the various activities and groups that have left their mark at the MPE.
ESA's Planck satellite has delivered its first all-sky image of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB), providing the most precise picture of the early Universe so far. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and other institutes have now applied their statistical analysis methods to the Planck data and find that the temperature fluctuations seen in the CMB are indeed not a purely random, Gaussian field but that there are phase correlations on large scales.
Using the PACS instrument on-board the Herschel Space Telescope, astronomers have used a new method to measure the mass of the protoplanetary disk around the nearby young star TW Hydrae. With a mass equivalent to 50 times that of Jupiter, this is several times more massive than the primordial disk that gave birth to our Solar System.
The Nova monitoring campaign in our neighbouring Andromeda galaxy yielded an extremely bright X-ray source, XMMU J004243.6+412519. Follow-up observations at radio wavelengths indicate an energetic jet of particles powered by a stellar-mass black hole.
New observations of the dwarf planet Makemake reveal that this chilly world does not have a global atmosphere – contrary to what astronomers expected. While previous observations with the Herschel space telescope already revealed a patchy surface, this object turns out to be even more exotic than previously thought.
Statistical analysis plays a major role in many research areas including astrophysics. However, as scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have now found, some of the algorithms employed might not be very reliable.
On 21 September, the gamma-ray burst monitor (GBM) instrument onboard the Fermi satellite detected its 1000th cosmic explosion. It lasted for around 3 seconds, and consisted of a single large pulse of gamma-rays.
The Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III) has released the largest-ever three-dimensional map of massive galaxies and distant black holes, which will help astronomers explain the mysterious "dark matter" and "dark energy" that scientists know makes up 96 per cent of the universe.