All News (2011 - ...)

Sharper infrared eyes for the VLT: ERIS sees first light

The Enhanced Resolution Imager and Spectrograph (ERIS), a science instrument which was built by a consortium under the leadership of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics, has successfully completed its first test observations. One of them exposed the heart of the galaxy NGC 1097 in mesmerising detail. Installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at Cerro Paranal in northern Chile, this infrared instrument will be able to see further and in finer detail, leading the way in Solar System, exoplanet and galaxy observations. more

Obituary for Professor Maarten Schmidt

A few weeks ago, Professor Maarten Schmidt, an external scientific member of the MPE for many years and involved in numerous projects, passed away. The two former MPE directors, Joachim Trümper and Günter Hasinger, who worked with Schmidt for many years, remember. more

Ewine van Dishoeck receives Niels Bohr International Gold Medal<br /> 

The Danish Society of Engineers, IDA, awards the Niels Bohr International Gold Medal to Prof. Ewine F. van Dishoeck (Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics and Leiden University, Netherlands). The medal has been awarded since 1955 for ”outstanding work by an engineer or physicist for the peaceful utilization of atomic energy”. more

Tommaso Grassi receives AG Software Award

The German Astronomical Society (AG) has awarded MPE scientist Dr. Tommaso Grassi with the Astrophysical Software Award for the development of the astrochemistry package KROME. The award ceremony will take place at the University of Bremen during the annual AG meeting from 12th to 16th of September 2022. more

IAU PhD prize awarded to Riccardo Arcodia

The IAU has awarded MPE junior scientist Riccardo Arcodia with a PhD prize for his thesis on “Accretion onto black holes across the mass scale”. Along with the other nine prizewinners, he will give a talk at the next IAU general assembly, taking place at the beginning of August in Busan, Republic of Korea. more

Frank Eisenhauer receives 2020 Michelson Investigator Achievement Award

At the occasion of the 2022 SPIE Astronomical Telescopes and Instrumentation conference, the Lowell Observatory and the Observatoire de la Cote d’Azur awarded the 2020 Michelson Investigator Achievement Award to Dr. Frank Eisenhauer, on behalf of himself, the GRAVITY consortium and the ESO VLTI team for the groundbreaking results of VLTI-GRAVITY. more

Frank Eisenhauer receives prestigious Gruber cosmology prize

The 2022 Gruber Cosmology Prize recognizes Frank Eisenhauer of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics for the revolutionary design of instruments that collected seemingly irrefutable evidence for the existence of a black hole at the center of our Galaxy. The citation honors the “unprecedented and exquisite” precision of his instrumentation. more

<strong>Explosion observed on a White Dwarf </strong>

When stars like our Sun use up all their fuel, they shrink to form white dwarfs. Sometimes such dead stars flare back to life in a super-hot explosion, called a “nova”, and produce a fireball of X-ray radiation. Using the eROSITA telescope on the SRG space observatory, a research team led by Friedrich-Alexander-Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg (FAU) has now been able to observe such an explosion of X-ray light for the very first time. more

Asteroid treasure in the Hubble archive

With a sophisticated combination of human and artificial intelligence, astronomers uncovered 1701 new asteroid trails in archival data of the Hubble Space Telescope spanning the past 20 years. While about one third could be identified and attributed to known objects, more than 1000 trails probably correspond to previously unknown asteroids. These unidentified asteroids are faint and likely smaller than asteroids detected in ground-based surveys. They could give the astronomers valuable clues about conditions in the early solar system, when the planets were formed. more

Funding procured to uncover the inner workings of galaxies at cosmic noon

MPE scientist Natascha Förster Schreiber wins ERC Advanced Grant more

Molecules are stored in ice just before star and planet formation

Astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics have found evidence that just before star formation, in the central region of a pre-stellar cloud, practically all heavy molecules freeze out on top of dust grains. The ALMA observations of the L1544 cloud in the constellation Taurus showed not only a central concentration of dust grains, but also revealed that molecules containing nitrogen as well those containing carbon, oxygen and all elements heavier than helium, are stored in thick icy mantles around the dust grains. These icy mantles are rich in water and organic molecules, precursors of pre-biotic molecules. The abundances are similar to those observed in leftover objects from the formation of our Solar System. more

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