News

Starry Night on April 20

The Eagle Nebula. Credit: NASA & ESA

Starry Night on April 20

AIP invites to the next Starry Night in Babelsberg on Thursday, April 20, starting at 7:15pm with a public lecture of Prof. Dr. Philipp Richter about „The Diffuse Universe“. Please note that th...

In the early phases of the universe, enormous amounts of gas have been pulled together under the gravitational influence of dark matter. Thus, the first generation of stars and galaxies came into being. Today, galaxies still contain large amounts of diffuse gas and convert it into new stars constantly. Hence, the gaseous matter in the universe plays a key role in the development of galaxies. The talk by Philipp Richter from the Institute of Physics and Astronomy of the University of Potsdam will elaborate on the most important features of this fascinating medium and give insights into the recent research in this field.  

The event is a part of the „Clusterwoche Deutschland“, which aims at presenting the diversity and strength of German Clusters.

We look forward to your visit!

Free entry, no previous registration necessary.

Location: AIP, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam

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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@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.

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New Technologies for Astronomical Research

Operating principle of a photonic reformer. (Full caption in the main text.) Image: Dr Robert Harris, Königstuhl State Observatory, Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University

New Technologies for Astronomical Research

8 March 2017. Three working groups from Heidelberg, Cologne and Potsdam are involved in a joint project to develop a new technology for astronomical research. The researchers intend to render micro...

The “Novel Astronomical Instrumentation through Photonic Reformatting” (NAIR) project is being funded by the DFG within the “New Instrumentation for Research” call for proposals. The researchers in Heidelberg, Cologne and Potsdam will design and test components that can efficiently rearrange the light of stars and galaxies to enable high-precision measurements of cosmic objects. This new technology is targeted for use on large telescopes in order to, for example, search for earth-like planets of nearby stars and determine their atmospheric composition.

“When building spectrographs for modern telescopes, we increasingly encounter technical and financial limitations,” explains Prof. Dr Andreas Quirrenbach, Head of the Königstuhl State Observatory. “However, in the coming decade telescopes with mirrors up to 40 meters in diameter will be placed in operation. We need new concepts to exploit the potential of these giant telescopes.” One of these innovative approaches is the reformatting of light: for example, a light beam with a cross-section in the shape of a thin line is formed from a circular beam. According to Prof. Quirrenbach, it is also possible to use relatively small spectrographs with very large telescopes if they are fed these “squeezed” light bundles.

Heidelberg researcher Dr Robert Harris already worked with the rearrangement of starlight while preparing his doctoral dissertation. He came across micro-optic devices used by the telecommunications industry in switching centres for fibre-optic networks. They have complex functions in a minimum amount of space and are therefore suitable for reformatting light. Now Dr Harris is developing components specifically tailored to the needs of astronomy. There is a further application for these photonic systems, according to Prof. Dr Lucas Labadie of Cologne. “If several telescopes are connected to a so-called interferometer, we get sharper images than would be possible with a single telescope. For this purpose, all light bundles must be combined and superimposed with the highest precision.” Achieving this requires optimising the components and better understanding their physical properties in order to minimise light losses, as Dr Stefano Minardi and Dr Roger Haynes from Potsdam emphasise.

The DFG funding provides for staff and laboratory equipment to develop and test new micro-optic systems concepts for use in astronomical instruments. The technology should also be made available to others working in basic scientific research. Dr Minardi is research group leader at the centre for innovation competence innoFSPEC Potsdam.

Press Release of the University of Heidelberg:
www.uni-heidelberg.de/presse/news2017/pm20170308-new-technologies-for-astronomical-research.html

Science contacts:
Dr Stefano Minardi, innoFSPEC Potsdam, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, +49 331-7499 687, sminardi@aip.de

Dr Roger Haynes, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, +49 331-7499 654, rhaynes@aip.de

Prof. Dr Andreas Quirrenbach, Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University – Königstuhl State Observatory, +49 6221-54 1792, a.quirrenbach@lsw.uni-heidelberg.de

Dr Robert Harris, Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University – Königstuhl State Observatory, +49 6221-54 1733, r.harris@lsw.uni-heidelberg.de

Prof. Dr Lucas Labadie, University of Cologne, Institute of Physics I, +49 221-470 3493, labadie@ph1.uni-koeln.de

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

Additional images:
Find three additional images here.

Figure 1: Operating principle of a photonic reformer. In this example, a squared field of view is converted into a thin line, which can be very effectively coupled into an astronomical spectrograph.
Image: Dr Robert Harris, Königstuhl State Observatory, Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University

Figure 2: Multicore optical fibre for use in high-precision spectrographs. The different colours and shapes show that the optical fibre mixes the incident white light and thus greatly reduces unwanted interference effects observed by the spectrograph. This is required, for example, to find earth-like planets. The optical fibre named MCF511 was manufactured at the University of Bath (UK).
Image: Dionne Haynes, Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam

Figure 3: Photonic component for an astronomical interferometer. The light strips visible in the glass are light guides. Such components are used on large telescopes in the most modern observatories.
Photo: University of Cologne, University of Jena and Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam

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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Elmo Tempel receives the Estonian National Science Award

Dr. Elmo Tempel (right) and the Prime Minister of Estonia, Mr Jüri Ratas (left). Picture: Annika Haas / Estonian Government Communication Unit.

Elmo Tempel receives the Estonian National Science Award

28 February 2017. Elmo Tempel, a researcher in the Cosmology and Large scale structure group, received the Estonian National Science Award on Friday the 24th of February 2017. The honour, bestowed ...

Dr. Tempel, who was recognised for his work in the exact sciences, joined nine other laureates across a wide variety of fields. He was awarded for his work on the study of cosmic filaments. These are elongated structures which stretch across the universe and channel the flow of galaxies.

 

Dr. Tempel’s seminal work includes understanding how these filaments affect the observable properties of galaxies. Among other important discoveries, his work has led to an understanding of how galaxies spin and how they grow.

 

The National Science Award is among the most prestigious Estonian honors and constitutes a 20,000EUR sum and a engraved medallion.

 

 

Science contact: Dr. Elmo Tempel, etempel@aip.de, 0331-7499 647
Media contact: Dr. Janine Fohlmeister, presse@aip.de, 0331-7499 802


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 ...