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Sun under double observation

Parker Solar Probe. (Credit: NASA)

Sun under double observation

NASA's Parker Solar Probe, launched on 12th August, will be the first spacecraft to approach the sun reaching 10 solar radii, and will provide science with new insights into our home star over the ...

What effect does solar activity have on the immediate surrounding space - and ultimately also on our earth? The space mission Parker Solar Probe will provide answers to these and other questions. They are of fundamental societal interest, as solar activity has a huge impact on our technological capabilities: it may cause interference with GPS navigation and electronic components in airplanes, satellites and hospitals.

With the space satellite, scientists want to examine the outer layer of the solar atmosphere - the corona - and the near-solar interplanetary space. One of them is Prof. Dr. Gottfried Mann. At the AIP he heads the department "Physics of the Sun" and researches, among other things, the sun and space weather. Together with 20 other international scientists, he has secured simultaneous observation time with LOFAR and Parker Solar Probe– a total of 1,024 hours over the next two years. The observation times are deliberately chosen: In the so-called perihelion phases, when the satellite comes closest to the sun, the research group plans simultaneous observations with the earthbound radio telescope LOFAR. "With these ground-based supplementary measurements, LOFAR will provide important data. This will make it possible in unprecedented ways to explore solar activity and its spread from the corona into the interplanetary space," Mann explains.

The International LOFAR Telescope (ILT) is a European joint project under Dutch management with numerous stations in Northern and Western Europe. In the last two years, the ILT has been extended by three stations in Poland and one station in Ireland. Thus, the base length increased to 1,885 km in east-west direction. In north-south direction, the base length is 1,301 km from Onsala in Sweden to Nançay in France. At present, the ILT consists of a central core of 24 stations and 14 further individual stations distributed in the Netherlands as well as an additional 13 international stations in Europe. The AIP participates in LOFAR with its own station in Potsdam-Bornim.

The scientific evaluation of the LOFAR data is organized in the form of six key science projects. One of them, Solar Physics and Space Weather with LOFAR, is managed by the AIP. With its high sensitivity and flexibility LOFAR is a suitable tool for a variety of scientific topics - from the early universe to near-Earth space.

 

LOFAR-Station in Potsdam-Bornim. (Credit: AIP)


Scientific contact at AIP

apl. Prof. Dr. Gottfried Mann, 0331-7499-292, gmann@aip.de

Media contact

Franziska Gräfe, 0331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

Further Information

LOFAR                         https://bit.ly/2AVchS4

Parker Solar Probe       http://parkersolarprobe.jhuapl.edu

Press release NASA      https://go.nasa.gov/2vCYbzO

 

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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Digging deeper: First catalogue of X-ray sources in overlapping observations published

Ninteen superimposed XMM-Newton observations of the same sky region. This corresponds to an exposure time of more than three days. Credit: AIP

Digging deeper: First catalogue of X-ray sources in overlapping observations published

Members of the X-ray astronomy working group at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics (AIP) and an international team have published the first catalogue of X-ray sources in multiply observed sky r...

"The more images are superimposed the more details become visible"

Since its launch end of 1999, the European X-ray satellite XMM-Newton has observed many patches of the sky repeatedly. Members of the X-ray astronomy group have developed new software to search for astrophysical objects in overlapping observations and used it to compile the first catalogue. By combining multiple observations of the same region of sky, higher accuracy is reached and faint sources are found that are not detectable in the individual observations. "Our method is similar to combining several transparencies showing the same subject: The more images are superimposed the more details become visible," explains Dr. Iris Traulsen, the project scientist at the AIP.

The new catalogue comprises 71,951 X-ray sources in 1,789 XMM-Newton observations and lists a wealth of information on their physical properties. Several thousand of these sources are newly discovered, many of them very faint and difficult to detect. The catalogue can be used to trace brightness changes of X-ray sources over time scales of up to 14.5 years. Dr. Axel Schwope, team leader at the AIP, says: "Variations of the X-ray brightness are a essential criteria used to search for exotic Celestial objects. To decipher their nature, we also employ the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona." The AIP is one of the LBT partners and contributes to its instrumentation and software.

Scientists all over the world have been using the XMM-Newton Source Catalogues to get new information about their research objects and to search for rare and as yet unknown sources of X-rays.

X-ray telescopes: the invisible made visible

X-ray observations open a window to regions of the Universe that are invisible to human eyes. Celestial X-rays arise from extremely energetic processes, for example in hot gas at temperatures of hundreds of millions degrees. This relatively new technique has been used for some fifty years to study these often exotic objects. A single observation by ESA's space-based X-ray telescope XMM-Newton covers the same sky area as the full moon and contains fifty to one hundred X-ray sources. They range from hot or very compact, collapsed stars to massive black holes in distant galaxies and to galaxy clusters billions of light years away from the Earth.

The XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre Consortium has been established more than twenty years ago as a team of scientists in several European countries, including France, Spain, the United Kingdom and Germany. They process the publicly available XMM-Newton observations and publish catalogues of all serendipitously detected X-ray sources. The AIP contributes and maintains the source-detection software.

 

Scientific contact at AIP

Dr. Iris Traulsen, 0331-7499 286, itraulsen@aip.de

Media contact

Franziska Gräfe, 0331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

Further Information

Catalogue

http://xmmssc.irap.omp.eu/Catalogue/3XMM-DR7s/3XMM_DR7stack.html

Publication (submitted to Astronomy & Astrophysics)

https://arxiv.org/abs/1807.09178

XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre:

http://www.aip.de/de/forschung/forschungsschwerpunkt-ea/research-groups-and-projects/galaxien-und- quasare/roentgenastronomie/xmm-ssc

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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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Neptune closer than ever: Super Sharp Pictures form the Edge of our Solar System

Neptune from the VLT with MUSE/GALACSI Narrow Field Mode adaptive optics. Credit: P. Weilbacher (AIP)

Neptune closer than ever: Super Sharp Pictures form the Edge of our Solar System

Astronomers from the Leibniz-Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) tested as part of an international team a new observation mode with the MUSE instrument at the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Ch...

The earth's atmosphere as a disruptive factor

When observing the Universe from Earth, the atmosphere impairs the astronomical images. Therefore, astronomers have been trying to suppress this turbulence for a long time. One possibility is to observe from outside the Earth's atmosphere: The Hubble Space Telescope, for example, is so powerful because it does not have to consider the atmospheric effects.

With the help of adaptive optics (AO), astronomers can also eliminate these atmospheric effects in ground-based telescopes such as the VLT: In the ESO VLT facility on Mount Paranal, artificial stars at 80 km height, made using four lasers, are used to determine the difference between the model and the observed blurred images and correct the atmospheric turbulence. This powerful adaptive optics, for the first time, has now been tested with the MUSE 3D spectrograph in its so-called narrow-field mode with laser tomography. This corrects almost all atmospheric turbulence. Although the wide-field mode used so far enables observations in a larger field of view, it does not correct the blurring as well and produces a lower resolution images than the new narrow-field mode.

MUSE was partly developed and built in Potsdam and has been installed at the VLT in 2013. "By removing the effects of the atmosphere and thereby increasing the sharpness of the images, we can increase the physical information from these objects," says Dr. Andreas Kelz from the AIP.

The heirs of the Neptune discovery

One of the first objects observed by the MUSE team at the AO premiere in narrow-field mode was the planet Neptune, a special celestial body, from Potsdam's point of view: In 1846 at the Berlin observatory, the forerunner of the AIP, Johann Gottfried Galle discovered the planet on the edge of our solar system. Neptune’s orbit was predicted by the French mathematician Urbain Le Verrier, and the German astronomers followed his predictions.

The MUSE team, consisting mainly of French and German scientists, has now achieved spectacular images thanks to the new observation mode: the details in Neptune's clouds even exceed the sharpness of the pictures made with Hubble Space Telescope. The spectral data also provides chemical and dynamic information - in every pixel of the image.

Not only the solar system, but also our home galaxy can be better examined thanks to the new image quality. MUSE's spectral information enables us to explore, among other things, the evolution, chemical composition, age, and dynamics of globular clusters, which are among the oldest star agglomerations in our galaxy and can harbour massive black holes in their centres. AIP scientist Dr. Tanya Urrutia, who is involved in the evolution of galaxies and was on site at the VLT together with colleague Dr. Peter Weilbacher, is thrilled: "The enormous increase of details in the images of centres of scratch distant galaxies, coupled with the dynamics and element frequencies that the MUSE instrument offers us, opens a new window in the exploration the question of how supermassive black holes will be fed and activated by the gas in the central region. It's like having the mighty MUSE instrument in space!"

 

Observations of Neptune. Left: the blurry image of the planet without the adaptive module being on. Middle: the sharp images of adaptive optics, including details in the methane clouds. Right: Shot from the Hubble Space Telescope with less detail. Credit: AIP/P. Weilbacher


These images of the globular cluster NGC 6388 were taken during the tests of the narrow-field mode of the adaptive optics of the MUSE / GALACSI instrument at the VLT of the ESO. The image on the left comes from MUSE in wide-field mode (without AO), the middle image is an enlargement of a small part of this view. The image on the right shows the same view in MUSE's Narrow Field mode (with AO). Credit: ESO/S. Kammann (LJMU)

 

Further information:

Science Contact at AIP

Dr. Tanya Urrutia, 0331-7499 664, turrutia@aip.de

Media Contact

Franziska Gräfe, 0331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

 

MUSE is a joint project of seven European Research Institutes,

- led by the Centre de Recherche Astrophysique de Lyon (CRAL, France),
- the Leibniz-Institut für Astrophysik Potsdam (AIP, Germany),
- the Institut für Astrophysik der Universität Göttingen (IAG, Germany),
- the Institut de Recherche en Astrophysique et Planétologie (IRAP, France),
- the Sternwarte Leiden and the Niederländischen Forschungsakademie für Astronomie (NOVA, Netherlands),
- the Institut für Astronomie der Eidgenössischen Technischen Hochschule Zürich (ETH, Switzerland) and
- the European Southern Observatory (ESO).

The German MUSE partners from the astrophysical institutes in Potsdam (AIP) and Göttingen (IAG) are supported by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

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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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An astronomical midsummer night's dream with Moon and Mars

Total Lunar Eclipse on September 28, 2015. Credit: AIP/J. Weingrill

An astronomical midsummer night's dream with Moon and Mars

On the evening of July 27th, two special astronomical events will take place: the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century and Mars close to the earth and at the same time inopposition to the sun....

The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) and the Urania Planetarium Potsdam invite you to a theme evening with a lecture followed by a public observation. Anyone interested can take a look through our mobile telescopes. The experts from AIP and Planetarium will answer all the questions about the rare spectacle of heaven on site.

 

8.30 p.m.: Warm-up show in the URANIA Planetarium

10 p.m.: Public observation at the New Lustgarten
(location near Casino, only with a clear view!)

 

The event is free of charge, registration is not required.

We are looking forward to your visit!

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Using Very Pristine Stars to Study Dwarf Galaxies & the Galactic Halo

Simulation of Satellite Galaxies. The colours indicate gas densities. Credit: HESTIA project

Using Very Pristine Stars to Study Dwarf Galaxies & the Galactic Halo

Kris Youakim from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) is talking this week at the 232nd AAS meeting about his latest results on the analysis of the stellar debris in the galactic h...

Although many of these accreted smaller galaxies are heavily disrupted over time and blend into the background, with a careful analysis it is possible to see their remaining signatures. “The Milky Way halo may look smooth at first glance, but it’s far from it. When we study it closely, we see substructure everywhere.” says Youakim. “And it’s these substructures which hold the clues to understanding the tumultuous history of the formation of the galactic halo.”

The key to this analysis is the identification of very pristine stars, stars which lack heavy elements because they formed close in time to the big bang before their atmospheres were significantly “polluted” by material from previous generations of dying stars. The smallest dwarf galaxies have many of these stars, so by looking at these stars specifically and how they are clustered in the halo, the many accreted smaller galaxies and their remnants stand out from the background. Furthermore, by finding the most pristine stars we can begin to probe the early times of our galaxy, since some of them are thought to be the direct descendants of the very first generation of stars that ever formed.

Youakim and a team of international collaborators are working on “the Pristine survey,” using a specifically designed filter on the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope to quickly search through large patches of sky to find these very pristine stars. Youakim has recently led a study demonstrating that this technique is exceptionally efficient. The team is now studying many of the discovered very pristine candidates in more detail as they can give us valuable clues as to what our galaxy used to be like in the past. Or as Youakim puts it, “These stars truly allow us to look back in time.”

 

Scientific contact at AIP

Kris Youakim, 0331-7499 301, kyouakim@aip.de

Media contact

Franziska Gräfe, 0331-7499 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 ...