Scientific Highlights

The secrets of dark energy

The secrets of dark energy

by Gabi Schoenherr last modified Jul 14, 2016 04:09 PM

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.

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Other Suns got the right spin

Other Suns got the right spin

by Kerstin Mork last modified Jul 14, 2016 01:42 PM

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.

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Cosmic Beacons Reveal the Milky Way's Ancient Core

Cosmic Beacons Reveal the Milky Way's Ancient Core

by Kerstin Mork last modified Jul 14, 2016 01:43 PM

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.

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Third CALIFA data release: an inspiration to be curious about galaxies

Third CALIFA data release: an inspiration to be curious about galaxies

by Kerstin Mork last modified Jul 14, 2016 01:44 PM

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.

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The Missing Brown Dwarfs

The Missing Brown Dwarfs

by Kerstin Mork last modified Jul 14, 2016 01:41 PM

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.

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Radio detection of cosmic rays

Radio detection of cosmic rays

by Janine Fohlmeister last modified Mar 07, 2016 02:24 PM

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.

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Reproducing the large-scale Universe

Reproducing the large-scale Universe

by Kerstin Mork last modified Feb 19, 2016 11:10 AM

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.

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A Curious Cosmic Collision

A Curious Cosmic Collision

by Kerstin Mork last modified Dec 09, 2015 12:06 PM

9 December 2015. New images from ESO’s Very Large Telescope at the Paranal Observatory show the spectacular aftermath of a 360 million year old cosmic collision in great detail. Among the debris is a rare and mysterious young dwarf galaxy that was observed during the first science verification run of the integral field spectrograph MUSE.

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First movie of stellar-surface evolution beyond our Solar System

First movie of stellar-surface evolution beyond our Solar System

by Kerstin Mork last modified Oct 21, 2015 09:05 AM

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.

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Starry surprise in the bulge: encounter of a halo passerby

Starry surprise in the bulge: encounter of a halo passerby

by Kerstin Mork last modified Jul 21, 2015 02:12 PM

21 July 2015. A team led by Andrea Kunder from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) measured the velocity of a sample of 100 old RR Lyrae stars* thought to reside in the Galactic bulge, the central group of stars found in most Galaxies.

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A Dark Matter bridge in our cosmic neighborhood

A Dark Matter bridge in our cosmic neighborhood

by Kerstin Mork last modified Jul 14, 2015 09:13 AM

14. Juli 2015. By using the best available data to monitor galactic traffic in our neighborhood, Noam Libeskind from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) and his collaborators have built a detailed map of how nearby galaxies move. In it they have discovered a bridge of Dark Matter stretching from our Local Group all the way to the Virgo cluster - a huge mass of some 2,000 galaxies roughly 50 million light years away, that is bound on either side by vast bubbles completely devoid of galaxies. This bridge and these voids help us understand a 40 year old problem regarding the curious distribution of dwarf galaxies.

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Digitizing astronomical photographic plates

Digitizing astronomical photographic plates

by Kerstin Mork last modified Oct 20, 2015 03:35 PM

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).

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Largest catalogue of  X-ray detected astrophysical objects published

Largest catalogue of X-ray detected astrophysical objects published

by Kerstin Mork last modified Oct 20, 2015 03:36 PM

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.

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To flare or not to flare: The riddle of galactic thin–thick disk solved

To flare or not to flare: The riddle of galactic thin–thick disk solved

by Kerstin Mork last modified Mar 29, 2016 03:59 PM

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.

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First Light for PEPSI

First Light for PEPSI

by Kerstin Mork last modified Jul 02, 2015 08:51 AM

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.

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Stars with the chemical clock on hold

Stars with the chemical clock on hold

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 07, 2016 01:49 PM

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.

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Solar eclipse seen by the LOFAR RadioTelescope

Solar eclipse seen by the LOFAR RadioTelescope

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 02, 2015 11:06 AM

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.

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ESO: Looking Deeply into the Universe in 3D

ESO: Looking Deeply into the Universe in 3D

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 02, 2015 11:09 AM

26 February 2015. MUSE goes beyond Hubble

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Star passed through solar system 70,000 years ago

Star passed through solar system 70,000 years ago

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 02, 2015 11:11 AM

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.

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The dark side of light

The dark side of light

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 02, 2015 11:13 AM

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.

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