High-Energy Astrophysics at MPE

In the high energy domain of the electromagnetic spectrum (X-rays and gamma-rays), we observe emission from cosmic sources arising from processes at high temperatures (greater than about 1 million degrees), or highly energetic non-thermal phenomena. The bulk of the baryonic matter in our Universe is in such a hot phase, locked up in galaxy clusters, galaxy groups, and the intergalactic medium, and can only be seen via its X-ray emission. Similarly, as matter falls into black holes and other compact objects, energetic processes accelerate and heat matter to high temperatures, producing X-ray emission.

The core research topics in the MPE high energy group are:

  • Compact Objects and Extreme Astrophysics
  • Supermassive Black Hole Evolution
  • Large Scale Structure

Because X-ray and gamma ray emission cannot be seen from the ground, the instrumentation to observe these high-energy phenomena must be launched into space. Our program at MPE incorporates one of the largest groups in the world working on instrumentation for X-ray astronomy, including X-ray optics.

The group has made major contributions to a large number of past and current high energy astrophysics projects, including Chandra, Fermi, INTEGRAL, ROSAT, Swift, and XMM-Newton. The eROSITA X-ray telescope was constructed at MPE for launch on the Russian/German Spektr-RG satellite in July 2019. The group will also play a major role in the Advanced Telescope for High-Energy Astrophysics (ATHENA), ESA's next large X-ray observatory with launch in 2028, by leading the development and construction of one of the two scientific instruments, the Wide Field Imager.

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