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An unprecedented view of two hundred galaxies

1 October 2014. The second data release of the international project CALIFA - a survey of galaxies carried out at Calar Alto observatory – will take place today. Galaxies are the result of an evolutionary process started thousands of million years ago, and their history is coded in their distinct components. The CALIFA project is intended to decode the galaxies’ history in a sort of galactic archaeology, through the 3D observations of a sample of six hundred galaxies. With this second data release corresponding to two hundred galaxies, the project reaches its halfway point with important results behind.
 An unprecedented view of two hundred galaxies

A panoramic view of the properties of galaxies.

“The data corresponding to the hundred galaxies included in the first data release of November 2012 have already been downloaded more than seven thousand times and they have produced a wide variety of results, both from inside and outside the CALIFA collaboration" underlines Sebastián Sánchez, principal investigator of the project. "With more than thirty peer review publications, more than hundred contributions to scientific meetings and five PhD theses submitted, this project is the most productive among those ever carried out at Calar Alto. This data release is a new milestone of the project, which already can be considered an international reference in the field of extragalactic surveys”.

The CALIFA Project allows not only to inspect the galaxies in detail, but it also provides with data on the evolution of each particular galaxy with time.

Thanks to the CALIFA data, the astronomers have been able to deduce the history of the mass, luminosity and chemical evolution of the CALIFA sample of galaxies, and thus they have found that more massive galaxies grow faster than less massive ones, and that they form their central regions before the external ones (inside-out mass assembly). CALIFA has also shed light on how chemical elements needed for file are produced within the galaxies or on the physical processes involved on galactic collisions, and it has even observed the last generation of stars still in their birth cocoon.

The above picture shows:  1) broad band images (center up), 2) stellar mass surface densities (upper right), 3) average stellar ages (lower right), 4) diagnostic emission lines (lower center), 5) Halpha emission (lower left) and 6) kinematics (upper left). (Credits: R. Garcia-Benito, F. Rosales-Ortega, E. Pérez, C. J. Walcher, S. F. Sanchez and the CALIFA team)

Science contact: Dr. Jakob Walcher, +49 331-7499 243,
Media contact: Kerstin Mork , +49 331-7499 469,

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.