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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.

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Science is international

Statement of the Alliance of Science Organizations in Germany

Science is international

3 February 2017. The Alliance of Science Organisations in Germany is concerned about the immigration ban issued by US President Donald Trump on 27 January 2017. It sees it as "a sweeping discrimina...

"The generation of scientific insights is contingent upon discourse that is forthright, unfettered and international. It hinges on the interdisciplinary personal exchange between academic dis- ciplines, nations and cultures. The executive order signed by the President of the United States this past Friday is a sweeping discrimination of human beings based on their ethnicity and con- sequently also an act of aggression against the fundamental values of science. Hence, German Scientific Organizations are extremely concerned about the President’s executive order. It is not a justified tool to use in the necessary fight against terrorism and will gravely impair the international exchange that is of such critical importance for scientific collaboration."

Read the full statement here.

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New Schwarzschild Fellow: Arianna Di Cintio

Arianna Di Cintio (Credit: private)

New Schwarzschild Fellow: Arianna Di Cintio

13 January 2017. The AIP welcomes Karl Schwarzschild Fellow Arianna Di Cintio. She completed her Ph.D. in 2014 at the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid in Spain, during which she also spent three mon...

Arianna Di Cintio's main interest is in galaxy formation and evolution, using numerical cosmological simulations. She focuses on small-scale problems of the current cosmological paradigm, trying to understand the nature of dark matter. Since 2011, she is part of the CLUES project, an international collaboration including AIP scientists, that aims at a better understanding of the properties of galaxies in the Local Universe. As a next project, Arianna Di Cintio is planning to investigate dwarf galaxies within the Local Volume together with AIP scientists from the Cosmology research section.

The Karl Schwarzschild Fellowship is awarded regularly with an alternating focus on extragalactic astrophysics and cosmic magnetic fields. The fellows should have received their PhD within the last five years and are identified in an  international search. They are expected to carry out an independent research programme and to contribute to the scientific life of the AIP including co-supervision of students.

The AIP continues the tradition of the Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam and the Berlin Observatory. It is located in the beautiful Potsdam/Babelsberg area, at the southwestern border of the Berlin metropolitan area. Over 150 scientists work on a variety of astrophysical topics covering the full range from solar physics to cosmology. Potsdam is also the home of the Albert-Einstein Institute for Gravitational Physics, the Physics & Astronomy department of Potsdam University and several other research institutions.

 

Science Contact: Dr. Arianna Di Cintio, +49 331 7499 346, adicintio@aip.de
Media Contact: Dr. Janine Fohlmeister, +49 331 7499 802, presse@aip.de

The key topics of 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. Since 1992 the AIP is a member of the Leibniz Association.

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Award for AIP scientist Else Starkenburg

Michael Kunze, president of the academy Andreas Gardt, Else Starkenburg und minister Stefan Wenzel. Picture: Adrienne Lochte.

Award for AIP scientist Else Starkenburg

28. November 2016. On 26 November 2016, Else Starkenburg from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) was honoured with the physics award of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Huma...

Grown up in the Neterlands, Else Starkenburg completed her Ph.D. in 2011 at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. She also holds an M.Sc. in Physics and Astronomy and an M.A. in Theoretical Philosophy. After working at the University of Victoria, Canada, Else Starkenburg came to AIP as the Karl Schwarzschild Fellow 2014. She is mainly interested in studying the history of the Milky Way and the smaller galaxies surrounding it. Since 2015, she also heads the Emmy Noehter Research Group „The early Milky Way“ at AIP.

Every year, the Göttingen Academy of Sciences and Humanities awards a price for outstanding scientific achievements in the fields of biology, chemistry and physics published in international magazines. Publishing houses, industrial companies and foundations fund the prices.

 

Science contact: Dr. Else Starkenburg, +49 331-7499 350, estarkenburg@aip.de
Media contact: Kerstin Mork, +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 ...