17 May 2016. Astrophysicists from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) and the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore have for the first time measured the rotation periods of stars in a cluster nearly as old as the Sun and found them to be similar. It turns out that these stars spin around once in about twenty-six days – just like our Sun. This discovery significantly strengthens what is known as the solar-stellar connection, a fundamental principle that guides much of modern solar and stellar astrophysics.
May 11th 1916 marks the death of Karl Schwarzschild, one of the most versatile astrophysicists and scientists of his time. He was only 42 years of age and at the height of his achievements when he died. Schwarzschild's work encompassed a wide range of scientific topics: he not only studied observational astronomy, but also furthered the development of astronomical instrumentation, and he was the first to give an exact solution to Einstein's field equations, which is now known as the “Schwarzschild solution”. Karl Schwarzschild saw the benefits of combining the scientific capabilities of chemistry and physics with astronomy and, with a large personal commitment, strongly promoted the emerging field of astrophysics.
2 May 2016. On the 9th of May at 1:12 p.m. local time, Mercury will begin its transit in front of the Sun – seen from the point of view of our Earth.
22 April 2016. An international team of astronomers led by Dr. Andrea Kunder of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) in Germany and Dr. R. Michael Rich of UCLA has discovered that the central 2000 light years within the Milky Way Galaxy hosts an ancient population of stars. These stars are more than 10 billion years old and their orbits in space preserve the early history of the formation of the Milky Way.
11 April 2016. The Calar Alto Legacy Integral Field Area Survey (CALIFA) has released all of the data assembled over six years of work. The data of more than 600 galaxies are accessible for anyone interested at http://califa.caha.es/DR3. The astronomical community thus obtains free access to the largest dataset of spatially resolved properties of galaxies ever obtained.
8 April 2016. When re-analysing catalogued and updated observational data of brown dwarfs in the solar neighbourhood, astronomers from Potsdam have found that a significant number of nearby brown dwarfs should still be out there, awaiting their discovery. The corresponding study by Gabriel Bihain and Ralf-Dieter Scholz from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) challenges the previously established picture of brown dwarfs in the solar neighbourhood.
23 March 2016. Scientists and engineers have begun mapping out the detailed specifications for the High Resolution Spectrograph HIRES that will be part of the instrument suite on ESO’s forthcoming European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT). Besides the Multi-Object Spectrograph MOS HIRES will be one of the world-leading workhorse instruments on what will be the world’s largest telescope. The contract to begin design studies for HIRES was signed on 22 March 2016 by ESO and the HIRES consortium, led by INAF.
18 March 2016. The European Southern Observatory has signed a phase A study contract with the MOSAIC consortium. The multi-object spectrograph will be the workhorse instrument for the E-ELT, with its 39m diameter primary mirror the biggest telescope in the world. MOSAIC will be the world-leading MOS facility, contributing to all fields of contemporary astronomy, from extra-solar planets, to the study of the halo of the Milky Way and its satellites, and from resolved stellar populations in nearby galaxies out to observations of the earliest ‘first-light’ structures in the Universe.
“Science Thrives in Open-minded Environments”: An Open Letter from the Directors of Research Institutes in Potsdam
There is no place in Potsdam for hostility towards foreigners and those seeking refuge, argue the heads of educational and research institutes in Potsdam in an open letter published on 16 March 2016 in the Märkischen Allgemeinen, the Potsdamer Neuesten Nachrichten and other newspapers.
3 March 2016. LOFAR, the Low-Frequency Array Radio Telescope, observed ultra-short, bright radio pulses of elementary particles entering the Earth atmosphere at almost the speed of light. The particles were fired off by a cosmic accelerator millions of years ago. An international team of astronomers including a number of scientists from the German Long Wavelength consortium (GLOW) have now unraveled the radio code of these intruders to determine their nature and constrain their origin. Their results are published in today’s edition of Nature.
17 February 2016. The European Research Council (ERC) announced Prof. Dr. Maria-Rosa Cioni to be winner of one of the ERC Consolidator Grants worth 2 million Euros. ERC Consolidator Grants are awarded to outstanding researchers once a year.
16 February 2016. The BOSS survey has scanned the sky measuring the redshifts of more than 1 million galaxies, yielding a three dimensional picture of luminous sources in our Universe covering about 4.5 billion years. An international team of astronomers has now reproduced the observed galaxy clustering and determined the uncertainties in the measurement of observed quantities by generating thousands of simulated galaxy catalogues. For the first time, the separation between pairs of galaxies, and the separation between triplets of galaxies has been explicitly constrained to reproduce the observations. Hence, the cosmic web in particular the empty regions between galaxies are described.
15 February 2016. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) has successfully raised funding for a new project as part of the funding scheme "Zwanzig20" (Federal Ministry of Education and Research). The aim of the one-year research project "4D high throughput spectroscopy" (4D HTS) within the Innovation Alliance 3Dsensation is a significant improvement of the processing of large data volumes.
7 December 2015. From December 7 to 9 the state of astrophysical research in Germany will be presented and strategies for the next decade will be discussed at a workshop organized by the Council of German Observatories (Rat Deutscher Sternwarten, RDS) and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) on Telegrafenberg in Potsdam.
30 November 2015. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) was given excellent marks in the independent evaluation process by the Leibniz Association, which takes place every seven years. The development of the institute over the past years was described to be extremely successful. AIP has taken important and clever strategic decisions in continually developing and extending its instrumentation and computer-aided infrastructure. The senate of the Leibniz Association has now confirmed the results of the evaluation, recommending continued funding by the federal government and the federal states.
20 October 2015. Astronomers from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), present for the first time a movie that shows the evolution of stellar spots on a star other than our Sun. The long-term, highly-sampled, phase-resolved spectroscopic data were made possible with the STELLA robotic telescopes on Tenerife. Over a period of 6 years the growth and fade of giant stellar spots on the star XX Tri are seen. The spots reveal an underlying magnetic cycle that has a period comparable to our Sun’s but is much stronger.
13 October 2015. In recognition of his outstanding research on the galactic dynamo and the evolution of planets in protoplanetary disks, Prof. Dr. Oliver Gressel from the Niels Bohr International Academy Copenhagen, Denmark is awarded the Wempe Award. The ceremony will take place on 16th October 2015, starting at 10 a.m. at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).
21 September 2015. The AIP welcomes this years Karl Schwarzschild Fellow Sarah J. Schmidt. She completed her Ph.D. in 2012 at the University of Washington in Seattle and was most recently the Columbus Prize Postdoctoral Fellow at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.
14 September 2015. Ivan Minchev, Astronomer at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), is awarded the Ludwig Biermann Award of the German Astronomical Society (Astronomische Gesellschaft, AG). The award ceremony takes place in Kiel on September 15, 2015.
4 August 2015. Matthias Winker is appointed as new administrative chairman at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP). Together with the scientific chairman and speaker of the Board, Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, Winker completes the Executive Board of the institute.