Cosmic Magnetic Fields
The research area of “Cosmic Magnetic Fields” is dedicated to the exploration of solar, stellar, and galactic magnetic fields, along with the underlying magnetohydrodynamic (MHD) mechanisms that generate them. Magnetic fields drive the non-thermal output of many cosmic objects, in particular that of the Sun and other stars. It is the agent responsible for spectral atmospheric activity that in turn governs star-planet interactions. The existence of stellar and planetary magnetic fields is a decisive factor for the formation and evolution of life on planets, as magnetic fields are shields against high-energy cosmic radiation. Their existence also ensures the further evolution and survival of civilisations like ours. Yet the magnetic field is still among the least-studied unknowns of the universe.
The goal at AIP is to understand the complex relationship between the structure of matter and the geometry and strength of magnetic fields with particular focus on solar and stellar magnetism and their connections. Comparable efforts are also made to study planetary and galactic magnetic fields. Large telescopes like the LBT and the VLT are used, along with smaller robotic telescopes like STELLA for high-resolution spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry. Supercomputers are used to create MHD simulations. The main projects of 2010/11 were the “solar-stellar connection” with the STELLA projects, the construction of PEPSI for the LBT, the “Radio Sun” with LOFAR, the solar telescope GREGOR, with its Fabry-Perot Interferometer, as well as the verification of magnetic instabilities with the new laboratory experiment GATE.