5 May 2015. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), in collaboration with Hamburger Sternwarte and Dr. Remeis-Sternwarte Bamberg, is digitizing an archive of astronomical photographic plates as a means to preserve cultural heritage. These photographic plates contain observations spanning nearly 100 years. They provide precious longterm information which can be mined by modern data extraction techniques. The project is supported by a DFG grant (German Research Funding Organisation).
28 April 2015. A systematic analysis of all observations performed so far by the X-ray satellite XMM-Newton resulted in the worlds most comprehensive catalogue of X-ray detected celestial objects. It was compiled and published by a science consortium, the XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre, the AIP being one of its members. The catalogue, called 3XMM-DR5, lists 565 962 X-ray detections, ranging from nearby objects in our Solar System to supermassive black holes at the edge of the Universe. For each detection, a wealth of information is provided to help understand the nature of the object and as a result, many new and extreme astrophysical objects will be discovered.
24 April 2015. A long-standing puzzle regarding the nature of disk galaxies has finally been solved by a team of astronomers led by Ivan Minchev from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), using state-of-the-art theoretical models. The new study shows that groups of stars with the same age always flare as the result of massive galactic collisions. When taken all together, these flares, nested like the petals of a blooming rose, puff up the disk and constitute what astronomers call the “thick” disk.
22 April 2015. The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) has received its first celestial light through the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT). Astronomers from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam showed the instruments incredible capabilities at different wavelengths and resolving powers. Among the first targets were several of the bright Gaia-ESO benchmark stars, magnetically active stars, solar-like stars with planets, a solar twin in M67, Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, and the bright Nova Sgr 2015b.
10 April 2015. An international team of astrophysicists, led by Cristina Chiappini from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, has discovered a group of red giant stars for which the ‘chemical clock’ does not work: according to their chemical signature, these stars should be old. Instead, they appear to be young when their ages are inferred using asteroseismology. Their existence cannot be explained by standard chemical evolution models of the Milky Way, suggesting that the chemical enrichment history of the Galactic disc is more complex than originally assumed.
23 March 2015. The European radio interferometer LOFAR succeeded in taking unique pictures of the solar eclipse on March 20th as it is not possible by eye.
26 February 2015. MUSE goes beyond Hubble
18 February 2015. An international team of astronomers around Eric Mamajek from the University of Rochester (USA) found out that our solar system had a stellar visitor very rently, just 70,000 years ago.
12 February 2015. In the highly interdisciplinary research project "Loss of the Night", scientists of very different institutions of the Leibniz Association investigate the increasing illumination of the night, its ecological, cultural and socioeconomic effects, and the effects on human health. Their aim is to develop improved lighting concepts and sustainable technologies.
5 January 2015. A recently published study in the scientific journal Nature presents a method by which the age of stars can be determined very precisely: "Gyrochronology", an analytical procedure for determining the ages of stars with knowledge of their masses and rotation periods. The word "Gyrochronology" is a neologism of the AIP scientist and co-author of the study, Sydney Barnes.
10 December 2014. Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP) and the Centre for innovation competence innoFSPEC have tested a novel optical frequency comb using an astronomical instrument. This new light source will improve the calibration of spectrographs and hence their scientific measurements.
2 December 2014. Solar turbulence theory confirmed by solar observations: the Lambda effect exists. AIP theoreticians have long believed that turbulence on the Sun behaves opposite to what is known in classical experimental physics due to a complex mechanism taking place, called "Lambda Effect". A publication by Günter Rüdiger and colleagues in Astronomy & Astrophysics Letters comparing theory to observational data now concludes that this predicted effect indeed occurs on the Sun.
12 November 2014. Based on an observation campaign lasting seven years, scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) published new findings about the binary star system Epsilon Aurigae in Astronomische Nachrichten (Astronomical Notes). The observation data was obtained using AIP’s robotic STELLA telescope on Tenerife.
23 October 2014. The images show a large Sunspot that appeared two days earlier. The SDI telescope uses the Sun as a guide star to keep its image to be well-projected onto the entrance fibres to the spectrograph. As it is equipped with a guiding video camera, it allows us to observe any other events of interest like the partial solar eclipse in Arizona on October 23 which lasted from 14:21 to 16:45 MST with a maximum of the obscuration up to 33% at 15:37 MST (UTC-7).
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.
12 September 2014 Davor Krajnović, astronomer at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), and his colleagues Eric Emsellem (ESO) and Marc Sarzi (University of Hertfordshire), have discovered how giant elliptical galaxies move. Their study is based on data obtained by the newly installed Multi Unit Spectroscopic Explorer (MUSE).
3 September 2014. Magnetic fields on the solar surface come in many shapes and sizes. The smallest magnetic flux elements become visible in the Fraunhofer G-band, a narrow spectral region with many molecular lines at around 430.6 nm, as bright points – sometimes aligned in chains and arcs. Once the magnetic flux is sufficiently strong to inhibit the convective energy transport from the solar interior to the solar atmosphere, dark structures begin to develop, which are called solar pores.
15 August 2014. Using data from the RAVE survey, a large observation project initiated and led by the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), an international team of astronomers has produced new maps of the material between the stars in the Milky Way that should move astronomers closer to cracking a stardust puzzle that has vexed them for nearly a century.
16 July 2014. 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 Universe into regions it had been unable to explore before.
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 (www.multidark.org) and it is used as a platform for publishing and sharing data products from cosmological simulations.