News

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey Expands Its Reach

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

The Sloan Digital Sky Survey Expands Its Reach

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 census of the Unive...

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.

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CosmoSim Database for cosmological simulations released

Website of the CosmoSim database.

CosmoSim Database for cosmological simulations released

23 June 2014. The CosmoSim database (www.cosmosim.org) has now been released after an intensive testing period. This service to the scientific community is the successor of the MultiDark database (...

It provides access to currently six cosmological simulations - including a highresolution resimulation of selected regions with hydrodynamics and star formation - which originate from different international projects in collaboration with the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).

 

Outputs of cosmological simulations are typically stored at supercomputing centres with restricted access and encompass terabytes of data - too much to be downloaded by everyone. By providing the data via CosmoSim, scientists from all over the world are able to access the data, filter or combine the results directly on the server and use them for their own research.

The available data products include catalogues of dark matter halos, their inner properties, merging histories, information about the cosmic web and for selected snapshots even the raw particle distributions allowing for much deeper studies of dark matter halos and their environment. All the simulations and database tables are made available through a modern web interface. Additional features include an extensive documentation, along with some background on the database structure and selected images and movies for outreach purposes.

The increase in resolution for cosmological simulations has led to larger data volumes, with individual tables reaching sizes in the terabyte range. By exploring a new database technology, it is now possible to store and analyse snapshots from simulations with nearly 60 billion particles directly in the CosmoSim database.

The new database technology, the Spider engine for MariaDB/MySQL, allows to spread the data over many server nodes, and one head node, resulting in a distribution of the computational task over many server nodes. Several additional software components were developed by AIP’s E-Science team to enable transparent handling of parallel queries. Further, a job queue was implemented as a direct plugin for MariaDB/MySQL, so that even long running queries are permitted without stalling the servers.

CosmoSim utilizes the modern web framework Daiquiri, which was developed by the E-Science team during the recent years. It provides direct data access via an SQL query form, a database browser and SQL validation before sending the query to the server. An interface to Virtual Observatory tools like TopCat allows further quick investigations and processing of the retrieved results.

CosmoSim is based fully on open source technology. The modules developed by the E-Science team are available on GitHub at https://github.com/adrpar and https://github.com/jochenklar.

Demo movie:                      
http://www.cosmosim.org/cms/documentation/demos-and-tutorials/first-steps-with-cosmosim

 

The CosmoSim-Team:
- Kristin Riebe, kriebe@aip.de (data management and support)
- Jochen Klar, jklar@aip.de (web interface - backend and frontend)
- Harry Enke, henke@aip.de (management)
- Stefan Gottloeber, sgottloeber@aip.de (simulation data)
- Adrian Partl, apartl@aip.de (backend and database development)

 

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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A unique star

The optical + X-ray image uses DSS. Credit: L. Oskinova (University Potsdam), ESA and STScI Digitized Sky Survey. DSS

A unique star

3 June 2014. Using ESA’s X-ray telescope XMM-Newton a team of Potsdam astronomers together with collegues from Belgium and the USA have found X-ray pulsations of a unique star. It is a celestial ...

The star is known as Xi1 Canis Majoris, it lies some 1500 light years away yet it can be seen with the naked eye. This is because the star is very bright and hot with a surface temperature of about 27500 K, and its mass approximately 15 times that of the Sun. This massive star draws particular attention to itself because it has an immensely strong magnetic field that was discovered by Swetlana Hubrig (AIP, Potsdam). The field is 5000 times stronger that the magnetic field of the Sun!

The star's magnetic field is carried into space by a river of particles flowing outwards from the star. This is known as a stellar wind and is extensively studied by Helge Todt and Wolf-Rainer Hamann, both from UP, Potsdam.

The star also shines brightly in X-rays. Lidia Oskinova (UP, Potsdam) was leading the study of this star using the European Space Agency (ESA) telescope XMM-Newton. Despite the star's fearsome temperature, it is not hot enough to emit appreciable X-rays. Instead, the X-rays are thought to come from shock waves in the star's magnetic field.

The team of Potsdam astronomers from AIP and Potsdam University, together with colleagues from three different institutes on both sides of Atlantic, discovered something very unexpected when analyzing the X-ray observations. The star's X-ray emission pulsated, rising and falling every 5 hours. Such pulsations have never before seen from normal stars. The results of this study is published in the journal Nature Communications.

The only stars previously known to give off pulsating X-rays were stellar remnants known as degenerate stars. These stars are very small, a white dwarf is about the size of the Earth, while a neutron star is only 10 km across. The mechanisms which produce X-ray pulsations in these degenerate object cannot work for Xi1 CMa that consists of normal matter.

A clue why Xi1 CMa is pulsating in X-rays may come from the fact that it pulsates in optical light as well. This optical variability has been known for a century. The pulses are extremely stable, changing by less than a second per century. The Potsdam team used the data from another ESA space mission Hipparcos that observed Xi1 CMa among millions of other stars in 1989 and 1993. The team compared optical and X-ray observations and found that they are in unison.

X-ray pulsations of Xi1 CMa are telling that stellar winds and stellar interiors are linked much more close than it was thought previously. The on-going and future collaboration between the AIP and theUP in obtaining new observations and developing sophisticated cutting edge models of stellar winds and stellar magnetospheres shall reveal the mystery of newly discovered stellar X-ray pulsars.

Link to publication in Nature Communications

ESA press release

 

++ A joint press release by the University of Potsdam (UP) and the AIP ++

 

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First Light for MUSE

MUSE at the VLT. (Credit: Ghaouti Hansali, Maître de Conférences à l'ENISE)

First Light for MUSE

5 March 2014. A new innovative instrument called MUSE (Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer) has been successfully installed on ESO’s Very Large Telescope (VLT) at the Paranal Observatory in norther...

Following testing and preliminary acceptance in Europe in September 2013, MUSE was shipped to ESO’s Paranal Observatory in Chile.

The leader of the team and principal investigator for the instrument, Roland Bacon from the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon expressed his feelings: "It has taken a lot of work by many people over many years, but we have done it! It seems strange that this seven-tonne collection of optics, mechanics and electronics is now a fantastic time machine for probing the early Universe. We are very proud of the achievement — MUSE will remain a unique instrument for years to come.”

MUSE’s science goals include delving into the early epochs of the Universe to probe the mechanisms of galaxy formation and studying both the motions of material in nearby galaxies and their chemical properties. It will have many other applications, ranging all the way from studies of the planets and satellites in the Solar System, through the properties of star-forming regions in the Milky Way and out to the distant Universe.

++ For the full text version please refer to the ESO website ++


Science contact AIP:

Dr. Andreas Kelz (MUSE local project manager), akelz@aip.de, +49 331-7499-640

Prof. Dr. Lutz Wisotzki (MUSE instrument scientist), lwisotzki@aip.de

 

Media contact AIP:

Kerstin Mork, presse@aip.de, +49 331-7499-469

 

Further information:

 

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 ...