News

Supercomputer to prove theory of sunspot formation

A global simulation of the Sun (left) cannot resolve the sunspot-formation processes while local high resolution simulations (right panels) can. Full caption in the text. Image by: Petri Käpylä

Supercomputer to prove theory of sunspot formation

15 May 2017. Where do sunspots form? Just below the Sun’s surface or deep down inside? The SPOTSIM project, that studies the origin of sunspots using magnetohydrodynamic simulations has now been ...

Modelling the Sun is difficult and there are two competing models for how sunspots are formed. The common assumption has been that magnetic fields are thin tube-like structures originating at the bottom of the Sun's convection zone at a depth of 200,000 kilometres. From there they erupt to the surface and form sunspots. However, this model does not take turbulence into account. In the SPOTSIM project sunspots are believed to form near the Sun's surface, in its convection zone.

The project has been awarded 20 million CPU hours in the MareNostrum supercomputer in Barcelona through the 14th regular PRACE (Partnership for Advanced Computing in Europe) Tier-0 call. The allocation corresponds roughly to the combined yearly computing capacity of the local clusters at the Leibniz-Institute for Astrophysics (AIP).

“The project concentrates in testing a turbulent formation mechanism of sunspots. This would mean that sunspots are born near the solar surface instead of the currently prevailing paradigm.” describes researcher Petri Käpylä from the AIP in Germany and the Aalto University in Finland. „If this turns out to be true it will have far-reaching consequences for solar and stellar dynamo theory.”

Participants in the research project “SPOTSIM – Spot-forming convection simulations” include Petri Käpylä, Maarit Käpylä, Aalto University and the Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research, Nishant Singh and Jörn Warnecke, Max-Planck-Institute for Solar System Research, as well as Axel Brandenburg, Nordic Institute for Theoretical Physics (NORDITA) and the University of Colorado Boulder.

Press release by the Aalto University:
http://www.aalto.fi/en/current/news/2017-05-10/

Science contact: Dr. Petri Juha Käpylä, +49 331-7499 525, pkapyla@aip.de

Media contact: Katrin Albaum, +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

Image caption: A global simulation of the Sun (left) cannot resolve the sunspot-formation processes while local high resolution simulations (right panels) can. The top right panel shows the magnetic field and the lower panel shows the velocity. The blue box indicates the size of the local simulation. Image by: Petri Käpylä

The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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Experiencing the Cosmos, Understanding X-ray Astronomy

The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) is presenting itself at the Potsdam Science Day, which takes place on Saturday, 13 May 2017, in the Science Park Potsdam Golm. Researchers of mo...

The AIP exhibition stand will be in the building of the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, in short MPI-AEI). Scientists will introduce the AIP and for example demonstrate how X-ray astronomy works. Visitors can furthermore have a look at the history of  the cosmos, travel virtually to observatories and space, take a bath in dark matter, and take home a 3D hologram. There will also be more than 200 separate events.

Prof. Dr. Klaus Strassmeier, Director of the AIP’s research branch Cosmic Magnetic Fields, will explain what astrophysics teaches us about life in the universe. This talk will take place in the seminar room in the MPI-AEI building, ground floor.

The website of the Potsdam Science Day with the complete program:
www.ptdw.de

 

The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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Peeking Through the Cloud’s Dusty Veil

VISTA’s view of the Small Magellanic Cloud. (Full caption in the text.) Credit: ESO/VISTA VMC

Peeking Through the Cloud’s Dusty Veil

5 May 2017. The biggest infrared image ever taken of the Small Magellanic Cloud: With the telescope VISTA, an international team of astronomers led by AIP researcher Prof. Dr. Maria-Rosa Cioni has ...

The Small Magellanic Cloud (SMC) galaxy is a striking feature of the southern sky even to the unaided eye. The SMC is a dwarf galaxy, the more petite twin of the Large Magellanic Cloud (LMC). They are two of our closest galaxy neighbours in space — the SMC lies about 200 000 light-years away, just a twelfth of the distance to the more famous Andromeda Galaxy.

Their relative proximity to Earth makes the Magellanic Clouds ideal candidates for studying how stars form and evolve. However, one of the major obstacles to obtaining clear observations of star formation in galaxies is interstellar dust. Enormous clouds of these tiny grains scatter and absorb some of the radiation emitted from the stars — especially visible light. Infrared radiation passes through interstellar dust much more easily than visible light. VISTA’s infrared observations have now allowed a clear view of what is in the galaxy.

VISTA, the Visible and Infrared Survey Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) located at the Paranal Observatory in Chile, was designed to image infrared radiation. The VISTA Survey of the Magellanic Clouds (VMC) is focused on mapping the star formation history of the SMC and LMC, as well as mapping their three-dimensional structures. Millions of SMC stars have been imaged in the infrared thanks to the VMC, providing an unparalleled view. “The data obtained by VISTA have outshined our expectations,” says Maria-Rosa Cioni. “At AIP, we measured tiny motions of stars we thought would have not been possible from the ground, and this is just one aspect of the breadth of research enabled by VMC described in over 24 articles to date.”

The VMC has revealed that most of the stars within the SMC formed far more recently than those in larger neighbouring galaxies. This early result from the survey is just a taster of the new discoveries still to come, as the survey continues to fill in blind spots in our maps of the Magellanic Clouds.

Image Caption: The whole frame of this VISTA image is filled with stars belonging to the Small Magellanic Cloud. It also includes thousands of background galaxies and several bright star clusters, including 47 Tucanae at the right of the picture, which lies much closer to the Earth than the SMC. The wealth of new information in this 1.6 gigapixel image (43 223 x 38 236 pixels) has been analysed by VMC team member Stefano Rubele of the University of Padova.

Credit: ESO/VISTA VMC

The full press release, more information, images and videos are published on the ESO website:
https://www.eso.org/public/unitedkingdom/news/eso1714/


Science contact: Prof. Dr. Maria-Rosa Cioni, +49 331-7499 651, mcioni@aip.de

Media contact: Katrin Albaum, +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

Publication presenting the research:
Stefano Rubele, Léo Girardi, Leandro Kerber, Maria-Rosa L. Cioni, Andrés E. Piatti, Simone Zaggia, Kenji Bekki, Alessandro Bressan, Gisella Clementini, Richard de Grijs, Jim P. Emerson, Martin A. T. Groenewegen, Valentin D. Ivanov, Marcella Marconi, Paola Marigo, Maria-Ida Moretti, Vincenzo Ripepi, Smitha Subramanian, Benjamin L. Tatton and Jacco Th. van Loon. „The VMC survey – XIV. First results on the look-back time star formation rate tomography of the Small Magellanic Cloud”, MNRAS 449, 639–661 (2015).


The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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Virtual Reality meets Astrophysics

With virtual reality glasses, one can see the distribution of dark matter (top) and gas in the universe (below). Images: Arman Khalatyan/AIP; VR Icon: © subhanbaghirov / Fotolia; Photo montage: AIP

Virtual Reality meets Astrophysics

6 April 2017. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) is launching a new Virtual Reality (VR) website. Offering 360 degree videos and panoramas, the new web portal vr.aip.de invites vi...

Astrophysicists get their insights of the universe and its objects from analyzing huge amounts of data from observations and simulations of stars, galaxies and other cosmic objects. Elaborate visualization methods make these data tangible. The videos allow the user to go on a VR excursion through our local cosmic neighbourhood. Its appearance changes dramatically with the kind of objects that are visualized – for instance dark matter, gas or stars. Enigmatic dark matter dominates the cosmic large-scale structure. Stars and galaxies trace this structure. These three different views of the universe also demonstrate how real astronomical observations work, using different telescopes and instruments to decipher the different objects and building blocks of the universe.

“With simulations and VR we make the invisible visible,” says Arman Khalatyan, an AIP astrophysicist, IT specialist, the initiator and creator of the AIP VR website. He also produced the VR movies and most of the simulations that they are based on. “With simple VR headsets and free apps, VR technology can be used by everyone today. With our platform we now open the universe to everyone.”

Virtual tour to astronomical observatories

The second part of the website invites the visitors to a virtual tour through different astrophysical observatories that are linked to the AIP due to telescope or instrument collaborations. If interested in the sun, one could choose a tour to the “Observatorio del Teide”, for instance. This international observatory is located at 2,400 meters above sea level on the island of Tenerife. During a virtual tour of the campus one can enter and explore the dome of the solar telescope GREGOR or take a look at the other telescopes of the observatory. In the background one can see the Teide Mountain at 3,718 meter not so far away above the clouds. Fans of architecture may choose the tour to the Einstein Tower in nearby Potsdam. More observatories worldwide are planned to follow soon to extend the website experience.



“With this Virtual Reality project, we would like to tell stories about the universe and encourage the exploration of fascinating locations of astronomical research,“ explains Gabriele Schönherr, an astrophysicist, science communicator and co-initiator of the AIP VR project. “Modern astrophysical observations are an international effort. This thought becomes alive in Virtual Reality.”

Web portal: vr.aip.de

Science contact: Dr. Arman Khalatyan, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, +49 331-7499 528, akhalatyan[AT]aip[.]de

Media contact: Katrin Albaum, +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

Images:
Click here to find further images.

Image 1: Stars in the universe. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 2: A scientific representation of gas in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 3: A 360 degree image of gas in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 4: A scientific representation of dark matter in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 5: A 360 degree image of dark matter in the universe, based on a computer simulation. Credit: A. Khalatyan / AIP, C. Scannapieco, CLUES-Projekt

Image 6: A 360 degree photo of the “Telegrafenberg” with the Einstein Tower (in the middle) and the Great Refractor (left). Credit: AIP

Image 7: A 360 degree photo of the dome of the solar telescope GREGOR. Credit: C. Kuckein, C. Denker/AIP


The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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New professor simulates galaxy formation on the computer

Prof. Dr. Christoph Pfrommer. Credit: AIP

New professor simulates galaxy formation on the computer

3 April 2017. How do galaxies and galaxy clusters, which are among the largest structures in the universe, form? Do cosmic rays have an impact on galaxy and cluster formation? Prof. Dr. Christoph P...

Cosmic rays originate in supernova explosions and jets erupting from supermassive black holes. “Aside from the fascinating question regarding the origin of cosmic rays, we especially want to find out whether they play a decisive role in galaxy formation,” says Pfrommer. The gaseous outflows that are powered by cosmic rays could be an important aspect in the development of spiral galaxies and may limit the amount of newborn stars in elliptical galaxies. Pfrommer and his research group aim at modelling the underlying physics of cosmic rays, magnetic fields, and plasma waves in great detail with the goal to conduct cosmological simulations at high resolution on supercomputers. They will validate their results by comparing their simulations to observations of radio and gamma-ray telescopes.

Pfrommer studied physics at the Friedrich Schiller University in Jena, Germany. In 2005, he obtained his PhD at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, with a doctoral thesis on the role of cosmic rays in clusters of galaxies. Afterwards, he worked at the Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics in Toronto, Canada, as a postdoctoral research fellow and, since 2010, at the HITS in Heidelberg, Germany. He was also a visiting fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, Garching, Germany, as well as at Stanford University and the Kavli Institute for Theoretical Physics in Santa Barbara, USA. In 2014, he obtained an ERC Consolidator Grant by the European Research Council for his project CRAGSMAN, which is investigating the impact of cosmic rays on galaxy and cluster formation.

Science contacts: Prof. Dr. Christoph Pfrommer, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, +49 331-7499 513, cpfrommer@aip.de

Media contact: Katrin Albaum, +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de


The key areas of research at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) are cosmic magnetic fields and extragalactic astrophysics. A considerable part of the institute's efforts aim at the development of research technology in the fields of spectroscopy, robotic telescopes, and e-science. The AIP is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory of Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

Read more ...