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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.