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Stars and galaxies with MUSE - extra clear

The Planetary Nebula NGC 6369 in the constellation Ophiochus, observed under normal conditions (left) and with the adaptive optics (right), which compensates for the atmospheric turbulence near the ground.

Stars and galaxies with MUSE - extra clear

Spectacular improvement of astronomical observations with MUSE using adaptive optics. Astronomers have been observing distant galaxies and nebulae with unprecedented quality using the MUSE instrume...

The novel adaptive optics facility (AOF) developed by ESO has been tested for the first time with the MUSE instrument. The Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE) itself is a complex 3D spectrograph that can simultaneously record thousands of spectra of entire regions on the sky and reconstruct images from this data. Scientists from the Leibniz-Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) took part in the development of MUSE and the commissioning of the adaptive optics mode. The overall lead of the project is at the Observatoire de Lyon (CRAL) and at ESO.

Andreas Kelz, the local project manager at the AIP, explains: "Astronomical images, taken with ground-based telescopes are always slightly blurred because turbulence in the air distorts the light and thus the resulting image. With the adaptive optics enabled, most of the atmospheric turbulence can be compensated. This stabilizes and sharpens the image and more details become visible." Peter Weilbacher, a scientist at AIP who was involved in the first observations with MUSE and its adaptive optics, is impressed with the results he obtained: "We have observed different objects in the southern sky and the improvement of the image quality is spectacular. Around the Planetary Nebula IC 4406 in the constellation of Lupus, shell structures could be observed which were not visible before."

What sounds so simple is based on one of the most advanced technology that has been put into practice for the first time on the Very Large Telescope. The adaptive optics facility (AOF) of ESO consists of three systems: Four high-power lasers illuminate layers of the Earth's atmosphere at an altitude of 80 km, stimulating sodium atoms to glow, thus projecting "artificial stars" into the night sky. Sensors in the GALACSI (Ground Atmospheric Layer Adaptive Corrector for Spectroscopic Imaging) module use these artificial laser stars to measure the atmospheric turbulence. Finally, the calculated corrections are sent to a one meter large deformable mirror at the telescope. Its curvature is slightly adjusted several hundred times per second which compensates the blurring effect.

These corrections provide two essential advantages for astronomical observations: with the increased image sharpness, extended structures are depicted in much more detail. Moreover, cosmic objects that are very faint become detectable at all. "One of our key scientific projects is the observation of distant galaxies that have emitted their light over 10 billion years ago. These objects appear so small and faint that long exposure times with stable conditions are required. With the support of the adaptive optics, this can be achieved much better now." says Lutz Wisotzki, program scientist of MUSE at the AIP. "The first results with the adaptive optics for MUSE fulfil the high expectations." Kelz is delighted. The scientists at the AIP are now looking forward to further astronomical discoveries in the coming years.

The German MUSE partners from the astrophysical institutes in Potsdam (AIP) and Göttingen (IAG) are supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

 

NGC 6563 is a planetary nebula in the constellation Sagittarius. The impressive image was reconstructed from the MUSE data cubes using the data reduction software developed by AIP. Through the support of the adaptive optics, weak structures in the nebula are being recognized, which were not visible before. The image on the left was taken without using adaptive optics and the one on the right was made using adaptive optics.
Credit: ESO / P. Weilbacher (AIP)

 

ESO 338-IG04 is a starburst galaxy in the constellation Sagittarius, which is likely triggered by merging events. The new data from MUSE with the adaptive optics clearly reveal different bright knots, which mark the places of intense star formation. Luminous, hot hydrogen gas forms the filamentary structures in the outer areas.
Quelle: ESO / P. Weilbacher (AIP)

 

The laser system in operation at the European Southern Observatory during the first observations with the AOF-assisted MUSE instrument. The adaptive optics partly compensates for the turbulence of the air and enables sharper images of astronomical targets. The stars of the Milky Way stretch over the observatory in the Chilean Atacama desert.
Quelle: P. Weilbacher (AIP)

 

Further information:

 

MUSE is a joint project of seven European Research Institutes,

  • led by the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CRAL, France),
  • the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP, Germany),
  • the Institut für Astrophysik der Universität Göttingen (IAG, Germany),
  • the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP, France),
  • the Sternwarte Leiden and the Niederländischen Forschungsakademie für Astronomie (NOVA, Netherlands),
  • the Institut für Astronomie der Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule Zürich (ETH, Switzerland) and
  • the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

 

Scientific contacts:

Dr. Andreas Kelz, 0331 7499-640, akelz@aip.de
Dr. Peter Weilbacher, 0331 7499-667, pweilbacher@aip.de
Prof. Dr. Lutz Wisotzki, 0331 7499-532, lwisotzki@aip.de

 

Media contact:

Janine Fohlmeister, 0331 7499-802, presse@aip.de

 

The key areas of research at 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. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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Celebratory reopening of the Great Refractor

The building with the Great Refractor

Celebratory reopening of the Great Refractor

19 July 2017. The Great Refractor of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) on the Potsdam Telegrafenberg campus shines in new splendor after the repair work and reconstruction has b...

The Great Refractor of the AIP is a monument of astrophysical research and a landmark of Potsdam. The huge lens telescope was inaugurated for the first time on 26 August 1899, in the presence of Emperor Wilhelm II as the main telescope of the Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam. Today, it is still the fourth largest lens telescope in the world.

Science minister Martina Münch honored the restored Great Refractor as an important scientific landmark in Potsdam. "The Great Refractor and Telegrafenberg campus were important science centers not only more than 100 years ago - they are still today. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam is an outstanding non-university research institution in the state of Brandenburg and has been one of the most renowned and research-oriented scientific institutions in Germany for years", says Münch. Matthias Winker, administrative head of the AIP, gave the welcome adress. In addition to the minister, Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, chairman of the board and scientific director of the AIP, greeted the guests. Monument protection expert Jörg Limberg gave a lecture on the structural aspects and the renovation of the dome building. Between May 2016 and May 2017, numerous specialist companies and skilled workers carried out the repair work.

The telescope is a double refractor with two fixed telescopes on an equatorial mount. The larger tube has an 80 cm lens and a focal length of 12.2 meters. The smaller lens, designed for visual observation, has a diameter of 50 centimeters and a focal length of 12.5 meters. The diameter of the rotating 200-tonne dome is 21 meters. In 1904, diffuse interstellar matter was discovered by Johannes Hartmann, using the Great Refractor.

 

Science contact: Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, +49 331 7499-801, sek-vorstand@aip.de

Media contact: Kristin Riebe, Janine Fohlmeister, +49 331 7499-803, presse@aip.de

The key areas of research at 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. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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X-Ray Telescope STIX Ready for Launch to the Sun

The imager of the telescope STIX, which filters the X-ray radiation, and the detector box (black, in background), that measures the X-ray radiation. Image by: AIP/Hakan Önel

X-Ray Telescope STIX Ready for Launch to the Sun

13 July 2017. To observe the Sun at close range and measure its activity: with launch in February 2019, as part of the European Space Agency’s (ESA) Solar Orbiter spacecraft, STIX will study sola...

STIX (short for Spectrometer/Telescope for Imaging X-rays) is designed to measure X-ray radiation emitted from the hot corona, the outer solar atmosphere. X-ray radiation is an indicator for magnetic solar activity. STIX consists of windows in the heat shield, the imager and the detector box. X-ray radiation passes through the windows in the heat shield, it is subsequently filtered by the imager unit and finally detected by the detector box – in order to obtain images of the hottest regions of solar eruptions with temperatures of up to 40 million degrees Celsius.

AIP developed the fundamental imager design, machined actual flight parts, and supported the assembly and integration of the instrument. Furthermore, AIP accompanied the test campaign aimed to verify that the instrument can withstand strong vibration levels and large  temperature fluctuations. It took about eight years to complete the STIX imager. The German Space Agency (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt, DLR) funded AIP with 1.8 million Euros for this  project. Now, the international instrument team led by the Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz (FHNW) has delivered STIX to Airbus Defence and Space (UK), where all instruments will be integrated into the Solar Orbiter spacecraft. Solar Orbiter is equipped with ten instruments to investigate the Sun and its environment.

Scientists hope to find answers to some of the Sun’s yet unanswered questions with STIX data. They will study how solar flares are generated and how they affect the interplanetary space, the Earth’s environment and our technical civilisation. During Solar Orbiter’s ten year mission it will closely approach the Sun to about one quarter of the distance between Sun and Earth. It will even leave the ecliptic plane allowing for observations of the solar poles. Solar Orbiter will collect unprecedented data from perspectives never seen before.

STIX website:
http://www.aip.de/en/research/research-area-cmf/cosmic-magnetic-fields/solar-physics/solar-radio-physics/solo

Science contacts:
apl. Prof. Dr. Gottfried Mann (Projektleiter), +49 331-7499 292, gmann@aip.de
Dr. Hakan Önel, +49 331-7499 261, honel@aip.de

Media contact:
Katrin Albaum, Kristin Riebe, +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

The key areas of research at 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. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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Rediscovering our Galaxy

7 July 2017. What do we know about our home galaxy, the Milky Way? How was the Galaxy assembled and how did it evolve from the most pristine eras to its present state? About 200 astronomers meet fr...

From the chemical composition to the motion and the ages of stars: in contrast to galaxies that are far away, researchers can study the Milky Way in detail and, thus, reconstruct its formation history and evolution. The participants of the international IAU Symposium 334 on the Telegrafenberg in Potsdam will discuss open questions and talk about concepts emerging from the analysis of new, large, and complex datasets. “In the last decade we have stepped out of the solar vicinity with various surveys and new observational methods, starting to unveil the inner- and outermost regions of the Milky Way”, says AIP researcher and chair of the scientific organizing committee Dr. Cristina Chiappini. “Therefore, we are at a crucial point in our understanding of the Milky Way where our knowledge is growing rapidly. We need to be prepared for the even larger data coming next year with the second data release from the Gaia satellite, and discuss how to establish advanced models of the Milky Way formation and evolution.”

“The conference is organized in nine sections, going from the most pristine fossil records traced by the oldest stars in our Galaxy, to other tracers sampling the different galactic components”, says AIP researcher and chair of the local organizing committee Dr. Marica Valentini. Further topics include stellar models, and how stars of different masses contribute to the chemical enrichment of our Galaxy along the more than 12 billion years of evolution, and cosmological simulations of galaxies that are similar to the Milky Way. On Wednesday, 12 July 2017, as a special highlight, children from a public bilingual elementary school, the Europa-Schule Neues Tor in Berlin, will join the symposium and learn more about astronomy and the history of their home galaxy.

The IAU promotes astronomy through international cooperation and organises scientific meetings. Each year, the IAU sponsors nine international IAU symposia. In the last 25 years, only eight international IAU symposia took place in Germany – three of these were held in Potsdam, the most recent one in the year 2000. After 17 years, the IAU now returns to Germany with a symposium thanks to a successful application led by Cristina Chiappini, and co-chaired by Dr. Ivan Minchev and Dr. Else Starkenburg. The upcoming symposium confirms the leading role of the AIP in the research field of Galactic archaeology.

Symposium website: https://iaus334.aip.de

Science contact: Dr. Cristina Chiappini, +49 331 7499-454, cristina.chiappini@aip.de

Media contact: Katrin Albaum, +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de


The key areas of research at 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. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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Wempe Award for Alice C. Quillen

Prof. Dr. Alice C. Quillen. Photograph by: Quillen

Wempe Award for Alice C. Quillen

29 June 2017. In recognition of her outstanding research on the dynamics of galaxies and celestial mechanics, the Johann Wempe Foundation is honouring Prof. Dr. Alice C. Quillen from the University...

Quillens research includes observational, numerical and theoretical studies of the dynamics of gas and stars in galaxies. Furthermore, she is an expert in fields of celestial mechanics that have been inspired by extra solar planetary systems.

Quillen did her PhD at the Caltech on the topic of extragalactic astronomy in the submillimeter range. As Columbus Fellow at the Ohio State University she worked on a galaxy survey. At the Steward Observatory of the University of Arizona, she focused on accretion disks around black holes in nearby galaxies, which she observed with the Hubble Space Telescope. In 2002, she started working at the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester. In 2010, she was Elected Chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Division on Dynamical Astronomy. The Simons Foundation, New York, honoured her as Simons Fellow in Theoretical Physics in 2017.

In addition to her research on galactic dynamics, Quillen is also well known for her discoveries of unseen exoplanets by studying the morphology of circumstellar disks and for her work on the stability of multiple planet systems.

Schedule

2:00 pm

  • Opening
  • Welcome by Dr. Claudia Herok, Ministerium für Wissenschaft, Forschung und Kultur des Landes Brandenburg
  • Laudatio by Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, Scientific Chairman of AIP
  • Award Ceremony


3:15 pm

  • Ceremonial address by Prof. Dr. David W. Hogg, NYU Physics - Center for Cosmology and Particle Physics, USA / Max Planck Institute for Astronomy Heidelberg: „The most precise measurements of red-giant stars: Implications for Galactic Archaeology“



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, msteinmetz@aip.de, +49 331 7499-295

Media contact: Katrin Albaum, +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de


The key areas of research at 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. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

Read more ...