19. September 2016. The new data release of the RAdial Velocity Experiment (RAVE) is the fifth spectroscopic release of a survey of stars in the southern celestial hemisphere. It contains radial velocities for 520 781 spectra of 457 588 unique stars that were observed over ten years. With these measurements RAVE complements the first data release of the Gaia survey published by the European Space Agency ESA last week by providing radial velocities and stellar parameters, like temperatures, gravities and metallicities of stars in our Milky Way.
15 September 2016. The mystery of a rare change in the behaviour of a supermassive black hole at the centre of a distant galaxy has been solved by an international team of astronomers using ESO’s Very Large Telescope along with the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and NASA’s Chandra X-ray Observatory. It seems that the black hole has fallen on hard times and is no longer being fed enough fuel to make its surroundings shine.
14. September 2016. The European Space Agency's (ESA) mission Gaia published its first set of results on 14th of September 2016. The first data release contains parallaxes and proper motions of about two million stars. These measurements have been eagerly awaited by astronomers because they will enable them to study the Milky Way in unprecedented detail.
The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) invites everybody to an open day on 23 September 2016 from 4 to 10 PM.
23 August 2016. ESO has signed an agreement with a consortium led by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) to build 4MOST, a unique, next-generation spectroscopic instrument, which will be mounted on the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope for Astronomy (VISTA) at ESO’s Paranal Observatory in northern Chile. 4MOST, the 4-metre Multi-Object Spectroscopic Telescope, is expected to collect approximately 75 million spectra over its planned fifteen-year lifetime.
16 August 2016. In the context of current technology transfer projects, scientists at AIP have managed to successfully apply the spectral imaging method, developed in astrophysics, to diagnostics in the field of medicine. In contrast to digital cameras, which only register a brightness value for each pixel, this method detects an entire spectrum. AIP has made a name for itself internationally with this method, referred to also as integral field spectroscopy (IFS). The method is used for instruments such as PMAS and MUSE.
14 July 2016. Astronomers announced this week the sharpest results yet on the properties of dark energy driving the accelerated expansion of the Universe. For their studies, scientists from the Baryon Oscillation Spectroscopic Survey (BOSS) programme mapped a record-breaking 1.2 million galaxies observed within the Sloan Digital Sky Survey III (SDSS-III). A collection of papers from the BOSS collaboration describing these results was submitted this week to the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) has actively participated with important contributions to data analysis and theoretical modelling.
30. June 2016. At the 98th International Astronomical Union (IAU) Executive Committee meeting last May in Mexico the IAU Symposium 334 "Rediscovering our Galaxy" was approved to take place from the 10th to the 14th of July 2017 in Potsdam, Germany.
20 June 2016. Today, the one-week summer school "Quantitative Spectroscopy in Astrophysics" begins at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP). The school is targeted at graduate students interested in physics or astrophysics who applied to participate in the programme beforehand. The students will gain insights into state-of-the-art research and recent technological developments.
9 June 2016. Starting in the winter semester 2016/2017, the University of Potsdam will offer students an Astrophysics master programme. The Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY, the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) and the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics significantly contribute to this new curriculum. Students interested in a career in Astrophysics should apply not later than July 15. Only three universities in Germany afford students the possibility to achieve a Master’s degree in Astrophysics.
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.