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Karl Schwarzschild Fellow 2014: Else Starkenburg

Else Starkenburg. (Credit: private)

Karl Schwarzschild Fellow 2014: Else Starkenburg

1 September 2014. The AIP welcomes this years Karl Schwarzschild Fellow Else Starkenburg. She completed her Ph.D. in 2011 at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen in the...

She is mainly interested in studying the history of the Milky Way and the smaller galaxies surrounding it. Currently Else Starkenburg is working on modelling these galaxies with the help of computer simulations and comparing their predictions to observations. In her future work, she will follow up on these findings by studying hidden stars in satellite galaxies in detail and comparing these studies to results of modelling to get a better grip on how galaxies in the Universe form. Her research perfectly complements the research on chemical and dynamical evolution of the Milky Way and nearby galaxies conducted in the „Milky Way and the Local Volume“ research section at the AIP, which is with about 20 researchers one of the largest in the world in this field.

The Karl Schwarzschild Fellowship is awarded regularly with an alternating focus on extragalactic and stellar astrophysics. The fellows should have received their PhD within the last five years and are identified in an  international search. They are expected to carry out an independent research program and to contribute to the scientific life of the AIP including co-supervision of students.

The AIP continues the tradition of the Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam and the Berlin Observatory. It is located in the beautiful Potsdam/Babelsberg area, at the southwestern border of the Berlin metropolitan area. Over 150 scientists work on a variety of astrophysical topics covering the full range from solar physics to cosmology. Potsdam is also the home of the Albert-Einstein Institute for Gravitational Physics, the Physics & Astronomy department of Potsdam University and several other research institutions.

Science Contact: Dr. Roelof de Jong, +49 172 7336 648, rdejong@aip.de
Media Contact: Kerstin Mork , +49 331 7499 469, presse@aip.de

The key topics of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. Since 1992 the AIP is a member of the Leibniz Association.

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Thinkshop on Cosmology in Potsdam

25 August 2014. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) hosts its 11th Thinkshop under the title "Satellite galaxies and dwarfs in the local group“. From August 25 to 29 over 130 sci...

Dwarf galaxies are some of the most extreme objects in the Universe. They are small, incredibly faint clumps of stars and dark matter that formed at the dawn of the Universe itself. Their study can reveal to us a plethora of fundamental questions including how the Universe makes galaxies and how the Milky Way itself came into being.

Scientists from about twenty different countries made their way to Brandenburg to take part in this exceptional Thinkshop. Three Gruber Prize winners - Carlos Frenk, Simon White and Brent Tully – and two astronomers who received the Wempe Award – Yehuda Hoffman and, again, Brent Tully – are among the eminent participants.

 

Science Contact: Dr. Noam Libeskind, +49 172 7336 914, nlibeskind@aip.de

Media Contact: Kerstin Mork , +49 331 7499 469, presse@aip.de

 

For further information and a detailed schedule see: http://thinkshop.aip.de/dwarfs2014

 

The key topics of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. Since 1992 the AIP is a member of the Leibniz Association.

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New Milky Way Maps from RAVE data

Detail: DIBs map.

New Milky Way Maps from RAVE data

15 August 2014. Using data from the RAVE survey, a large observation project initiated and led by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), an international team of astronomers has prod...

The maps and an accompanying journal article appear the issue of the journal Science on 15 August 2014. The researchers say their work demonstrates a new way of uncovering the location and eventually the composition of the interstellar medium, which refers to the material found in the vast expanse between star systems within a galaxy.

This material, including dust and gas composed of atoms and molecules are left behind when a star dies. They also become the building blocks of new stars and planets. Analyzing rainbow-colored bands of starlight that have passed through space gives astronomers important information about the makeup of the space materials that the light has encountered. In 1922, a grad student’s photographs yielded some dark lines indicating ‘missing’ starlight, which must have been absorbed by a yet unknown source. These features were called diffuse interstellar bands (DIBs). Since then, scientists have identified more than 400 of these diffuse interstellar bands, but the material that is causing these bands to appear and their precise location have remained a mystery.

The nature of this puzzling material is important to astronomers because of the clues it could give about the physical conditions and chemistry of these regions between stars, critical components in theories of how stars and galaxies are formed. Researchers have speculated that the absorption of starlight that creates these dark bands points to the presence of unusually large complex molecules, but the proof has remained elusive. More concrete clues should emerge from the new pseudo-3D maps of the DIB-material within our Milky Way Galaxy produced by the 23 scientists who contributed to the Science article.

The maps were assembled from data collected over a 10-year period by the Radial Velocity Experiment (RAVE). The survey provided the mapmakers in the current project with data related to 500,000 stars. The vast size of the sample enabled the mapmakers to determine the distances of the material causing the DIBs and thus how it is distributed throughout the Milky Way Galaxy.

“With the wide area coverage of the spectroscopic survey RAVE it was for the first time possible to map out the three dimensional distribution of the DIBs” said Matthias Steinmetz of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), principle investigator of the RAVE survey. “We could show that the complex molecules responsible for the DIB features can also be found at larger distances to the Galactic plane than it is the case for interstellar dust”.

Janez Kos and Tomaz Zwitter of the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia led the astronomy team that produced this paper.

RAVE is a multinational project with participation of scientists from Australia, Germany, France, UK, Italy, Canada, the Netherlands, Slovenia and the USA, coordinated by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), Germany. Funding of RAVE which guarantees extensive data, telescope and instrument access is provided by the participating institutions and the national research foundations.

 

Science Contact AIP: Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, msteinmetz@aip.de, +49 331 7499 381

 

Contact to first authors of the publication: Janez Kos, University of Ljubljana, janez.kos@fmf.uni-lj.si, +386 1 4766 507

 

Media Contact AIP / RAVE: Dr. Gabriele Schönherr / Kerstin Mork, presse@aip.de, +49 331 7499 469

 

Related links

The Radial Velocity Experiment (RAVE)

 

Movie [mp4, 1280x720, 14 MB]

Fly by movie showing the distribution of RAVE stars (based on the 4th data release, Kordopatis et al. 2013) compared to a model of the Milky Way disk. In blue are dwarf stars, in red the much brighter giant stars. (Credit: Gal Matijevic (visualisation), The RAVE Collaboration)

Map (click to enlarge):

Maps of the measured DIB absorption in respect to the area they cover in our galaxy.

 


The key topics of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. Since 1992 the AIP is a member of the Leibniz Association.

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The Sloan Digital Sky Survey Expands Its Reach

(Credits: Dana Berry / SkyWorks Digital, Inc. and SDSS)

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey Expands Its Reach

16 July 2014. Building on 14 years of extraordinary discoveries, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) has launched a major program of three new surveys, adding novel capabilities to expand its censu...

This new phase of SDSS will explore the compositions and motions of stars across the entire Milky Way in unprecedented detail, using a telescope in Chile along with the existing Sloan Foundation Telescope.

It will make detailed maps of the internal structure of thousands of nearby galaxies to determine how they have grown and changed over billions of years, using a novel optical fiber bundle technology that can take spectra of each different part of a galaxy at once.

Sloan will measure the expansion of the Universe during a poorly understood five-billion-year period of the Universe’s history when Dark Energy started to drive its expansion, using a new set of galaxies and quasars.

 

The new survey is a collaboration of more than 200 astronomers at more than 40 institutions on four continents and incorporates telescopes in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres. With these two telescopes, the SDSS will be able to see the entire sky for the first time.

 

Based on a press release by the SDSS collaboration

More images and videos can be found at the SDSS website.

 

Science contact at the AIP: Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, msteinmetz@aip.de, +49 331 7499 381

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Wempe award for Brent Tully

Prof. R. Brent Tully (Institute for Astronomy Honolulu, Hawaii)

Wempe award for Brent Tully

30 June 2014. Today Prof. R. Brent Tully from the Institute for Astronomy Honolulu, Hawaii receives the Wempe Award in recognition of his groundbreaking research about the structure of galaxies and...

Born in Canada, Tully completed his PhD at the University of Maryland. He worked as a researcher at various universities in Europe and in the USA before receiving his call to the Institute for Astronomy Honolulu, Hawaii. Tully is very well-known to the astronomical community already since 1977 when he developed the famous Tully-Fisher relation together with his collegue Richard Fisher. This relation describes how the rotational velocity of spiral galaxies is related to their luminosity.

Tully’s research expertise is closely connected to the CLUES project at AIP. Within this project an international team of astronomers and astrophysicists provides constrained simulations of the local universe designed to be used as a numerical laboratory to study the formation of galaxies.

 

 

Programme

3:30p.m. Welcome and Laudatio: Dr. Claudia Herok, MWFK Brandenburg / Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, AIP

* Award ceremony*

4:45p.m. Special Talk by Prof. Dr. Reinhard Genzel, Director at the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestric Physics, Garching: "The evolution of massive star forming disks at the peak of the galaxy formation epoch"

 

About the Wempe Award

In honour of Prof. Dr. Johann Wempe (1906 - 1980), the last director of the former Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam, the AIP annually grants the Johann Wempe award, first awarded in 2000, to an outstanding scientist.

The award is financed from funds left in the will of Johann Wempe. It consists of a stipend of €2,500 per month to facilitate a research visit to the AIP of up to six months. The recipient may be either a promising young scientist who has already made notable achievements or a senior scientist, in recognition of his or her life's work. The recipient is expected to enrich the scientific life of the institute through a series of lectures in their area of expertise.

 

 

Science Contact: Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, +49 331 7499 381, msteinmetz@aip.de

Press Contact: Dr. Gabriele Schönherr, +49 331 7499 383, presse@aip.de

 

Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP)

The key topics of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. Since 1992 the AIP is a member of the Leibniz Association.

Read more ...