Scientific Highlights

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.

Starry surprise in the bulge: encounter of a halo passerby - Read More…

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.

A Dark Matter bridge in our cosmic neighborhood - Read More…

Digitizing astronomical photographic plates

Digitizing astronomical photographic plates

by Kerstin Mork last modified May 05, 2015 09:25 AM

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).

Digitizing astronomical photographic plates - Read More…

Largest catalogue of  X-ray detected astrophysical objects published

Largest catalogue of X-ray detected astrophysical objects published

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 28, 2015 10:44 AM

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.

Largest catalogue of X-ray detected astrophysical objects published - Read More…

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 Apr 27, 2015 09:03 AM

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.

To flare or not to flare: The riddle of galactic thin–thick disk solved - Read More…

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.

First Light for PEPSI - Read More…

Stars with the chemical clock on hold

Stars with the chemical clock on hold

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 13, 2015 02:56 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.

Stars with the chemical clock on hold - Read More…

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.

Solar eclipse seen by the LOFAR RadioTelescope - Read More…

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

ESO: Looking Deeply into the Universe in 3D - Read More…

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.

Star passed through solar system 70,000 years ago - Read More…

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.

The dark side of light - Read More…

Nature article: How stars reveal their ages

Nature article: How stars reveal their ages

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 02, 2015 11:10 AM

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.

Nature article: How stars reveal their ages - Read More…

A universal comb

A universal comb

by Kerstin Mork last modified Dec 10, 2014 09:33 AM

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.

A universal comb - Read More…

The Lambda effect confirmed

The Lambda effect confirmed

by Gabi Schoenherr last modified Apr 01, 2015 04:05 PM

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.

The Lambda effect confirmed - Read More…

Epsilon Aurigae - an extremely dynamic binary star

Epsilon Aurigae - an extremely dynamic binary star

by Kerstin Mork last modified Nov 12, 2014 10:57 AM

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.

Epsilon Aurigae - an extremely dynamic binary star - Read More…

Partial solar eclipse observed by SDI

Partial solar eclipse observed by SDI

by Kerstin Mork last modified Dec 12, 2014 10:24 AM

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).

Partial solar eclipse observed by SDI - Read More…

 An unprecedented view of two hundred galaxies

An unprecedented view of two hundred galaxies

by Kerstin Mork last modified Oct 01, 2014 10:28 AM

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 - Read More…

Astronomers unveil secrets of giant elliptical galaxies

Astronomers unveil secrets of giant elliptical galaxies

by Kerstin Mork last modified Sep 25, 2014 02:25 PM

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).

Astronomers unveil secrets of giant elliptical galaxies - Read More…

Facets of Solar Magnetic Fields

Facets of Solar Magnetic Fields

by Kerstin Mork last modified Apr 01, 2015 04:10 PM

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.

Facets of Solar Magnetic Fields - Read More…

New Milky Way Maps from RAVE data

New Milky Way Maps from RAVE data

by Kerstin Mork last modified Aug 15, 2014 01:28 PM

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.

New Milky Way Maps from RAVE data - Read More…