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Next generation astronomical survey to map the entire sky

Artist's Conception of SDSS-V. (Full caption in the text.) Image by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science/SDSS

Next generation astronomical survey to map the entire sky

17 November 2017. The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation will award a $16 million grant for the next generation of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS-V). The grant will kickstart a groundbreaking all-sky s...

The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) is an associate member of SDSS with usage rights for researchers and graduate students. “AIP’s main engagement is in the APOGEE survey, which complements the RAVE survey led by AIP,” says Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, AIP’s lead scientist in the SDSS collaboration. “With these surveys we have been able to dissect the Milky Way Galaxy and thus gain new insights in its structure and formation history.”

In the tradition of previous Sloan Surveys, SDSS-V is committed to making its data publicly available in a format that is helpful to a broad range of users, from the youngest students to both amateur and professional astronomers.     

The survey operates out of both Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, home of the survey’s original 2.5-meter telescope, and Carnegie’s Las Campanas Observatory in Chile, where it uses Carnegie’s du Pont telescope. SDSS-V will make use of both optical and infrared spectroscopy, to observe not only in two hemispheres, but also at two wavelengths of light.     

It will take advantage of the recently installed second APOGEE spectrograph on Carnegie’s du Pont telescope. Both it and its twin on Apache Point penetrate the dust in our Galaxy that confounds optical spectrographs to obtain high-resolution spectra for hundreds of stars at infrared wavelengths. In the optical wavelengths, the survey’s twin BOSS spectrographs can each obtain simultaneous spectra for 500 stars and quasars. What’s more, a newly envisioned pair of Integral Field Unit spectrographs can each obtain nearly 2,000 spectra contiguously across objects in the sky.      

SDSS-V will consist of three projects, each mapping different components of the universe: The Milky Way Mapper, the Black Hole Mapper and the Local Volume Mapper. The first Mapper focuses on the formation of the Milky Way and its stars and planets. The second will study the formation, growth, and ultimate sizes of the supermassive black holes that lurk at the centers of galaxies. The Local Volume Mapper will create the first complete spectroscopic maps of the most-iconic nearby galaxies. “These projects will be very complementary to the 4MOST science, of which AIP is a lead,” adds Dr. Cristina Chiappini who represents the AIP in the Collaboration Council.

SDSS is managed by the astrophysical research consortium for the Participating Institutions of the SDSS Collaboration. Funding for the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV has been provided by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science, and the participating institutions. The project’s fifth generation is building its consortium, but already has support from 18 institutions including the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam.   

Original press release by the Sloan Digital Sky Survey:
www.sdss.org/press-releases/sdss5

The SDSS web site:

www.sdss.org

Science contacts:
Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, +49 331-7499 801, msteinmetz@aip.de
Dr. Cristina Chiappini, +49 331 7499-454, cristina.chiappini@aip.de

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

Image caption: This artist's impression shows a cutaway view of the parts of the Universe that SDSS-V will study. SDSS-V will study millions of stars to create a map of the entire Milky Way. Farther out, the survey will get the most detailed view yet of the largest nearby galaxies like Andromeda in the Northern hemisphere and the Large Magellanic Cloud in the Southern hemisphere. Even farther out, the survey will measure quasars, bright points of light powered by matter falling into giant black holes. Credit: Image by Robin Dienel/Carnegie Institution for Science/SDSS


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 explicitly emphasize the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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Award for equal opportunity

1 November 2017. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) has received the „TOTAL E-QUALITY“ award for the years 2017 to 2019. It is presented to organizations from the private sect...

„The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics has well established structures concerning gender equality,“ announced the jury in its award statement. „It has made significant progress towards increasing the proportion of women in leading positions in the past years.“ The committee was also especially pleased by the above average proportion of women who obtain academic or doctoral degrees, and by the commitment to promoting a healthy balance between work and family life. The institute’s internal development objectives include both medium- and long-term goals, which are defined according to relevant personnel and gender equality issues. For 2020, the AIP has set new targets for its efforts regarding gender equality with the so-called cascade model. An active recruitment that is committed to gender equality will make it possible for these quotas to be achieved.

Currently, women hold 19 percent of leading positions at AIP; 28 percent of all employees are female. To promote the compatibility of work and family life, the AIP allows all employees flexible working hours, a policy which has been in place for the past several years. “After our success in promoting workplace equality and a healthy work-life balance, the AIP will be made even more attractive by emphasizing a focus on equal opportunity”, says Matthias Winker, Administrative Chairman of AIP. “The topic of equality takes the needs of the employees at an international institute such as the AIP into consideration, and it has also links to diversity. Our recent success with two separate certifications has demonstrated the high standards of the AIP for achieving equality. Continuing in this direction, I see a lot of opportunities for the future”, continued Winker.

The jury specifically appreciates the ambitious goals which the AIP has set for future recruitments as well as the steps that the institute has planned for other initiatives such as personnel marketing, institutionalization, and care. „We are looking forward to receiving the next application in 2020, which will hopefully demonstrate further progress and sustainability towards a workplace with equal opportunity, so that the AIP can retain this award for another three years.“

Website of the TOTAL E-QUALITY award: www.total-e-quality.de/en

Contact: Matthias Winker, Administrative Chairman, +49 331-7499 811

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

 

Matthias Winker, Administrative Chairman of AIP, with the "TOTAL E-QUALITY" certificate. Image by: TOTAL E-QUALITY Deutschland e. V.

 



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 explicitly emphasize the research area of astrophysics. The AIP has been a member of the Leibniz Association since 1992.

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The LBT gets polarized: First light for the PEPSI polarimeters

The Large Binocular Telescope at Mt. Graham, Arizona. Credit: Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

The LBT gets polarized: First light for the PEPSI polarimeters

Thanks to a cleverly designed "two-in-one" instrument attached to the world's most powerful telescope, astronomers can extract more clues about the properties of distant stars or exoplanets than pr...

Developed at the Leibniz-Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany, the Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) saw first light on April 1, 2015, after being successfully installed at the Large Binocular Telescope Observatory (LBTO) in Arizona, USA. Once both of PEPSI's polarimeters were mounted in the focus points of each of the LBT's two 8.4-meter mirrors in late September 2017, the telescope was pointed to the star gamma Equ and polarized light was received. From these spectra astronomers can, for example, deduce the geometry and strength of magnetic fields on the surfaces of distant stars, or study the reflected light from the atmospheres of potentially habitable exoplanets.

A polarimeter separates starlight according to its oscillation planes. It is complementary to a spectrograph that, like a prism, separates light according to its oscillation frequencies (or colour). The two combined, polarimeter and spectrograph, added to a powerful telescope, enable astronomers to obtain spectra in polarized light. This in turn allows the characterization of the full wave-front of the incoming stellar light and extract details of its radiation physics that otherwise remain hidden.

A series of integrations in circularly and linearly polarized light was obtained when the telescope was pointed to the magnetic reference star Gamma Equulei, or gamma Equ, a double star located about 118 light-years from Earth. These spectra have a spectral resolution of R=120,000, that means they can resolve two wavelengths only five hundredths of a hydrogen atom’s diameter apart. They cover two large wavelength regions in the visible light simultaneously, and have an unprecedented signal-to-noise ratio. Because the two polarimeters for each of LBT's "eyes" are identical and modular in design, circular and linear polarizations were obtained simultaneously.

The gamma Equ test also included a so-called null spectrum, which is obtained by swapping the observation sequence in the two fibers. Ideally, it would give zero polarization and be independent of wavelength. Any residual polarization would be due to instrumental effects.

“The null spectrum for PEPSI shows an extraordinary low degree of polarization noise caused by the instrument," says its principal investigator, Prof. Dr. Klaus Strassmeier, Research Branch Director at AIP and a professor of astronomy at the University of Potsdam. "Compared with the best spectropolarimeters currently available at other telescopes, it's probably better by a factor of ten." Eventually, the PEPSI polarimeters will enable stellar magnetic field measurements with extremely high precision," adds PEPSI’s project scientist Dr. Ilya Ilyin.

For Dr. Christian Veillet, LBTO Director, “In the 8-10m class telescope select club, PEPSI was already a unique instrument, thanks to its resolution coupled to two 8.4-m mirrors simultaneously available. The addition of a polarimeter on each of LBT’s eyes gives LBTO yet another unique capability. It comes as a precious complement to interferometry, which gives LBT's two eyes the imaging resolution of a 23-m telescope."

The PEPSI instrument is available to all LBT partners including the German astronomical community.

 

Polarimetric spectrum

Image 1 (pdf): First polarimetric spectrum from PEPSI. The target is the bright magnetic star gamma Equ. The black line is the PEPSI spectrum and the red line is, for comparison, the HARPS-Pol spectrum. From top to bottom: the magnetic null spectrum enlarged by a factor five, the normalized linear Stokes component U/Ic enlarged by a factor 5, the normalized linear Stokes component Q/Ic  enlarged by a factor 5, the normalized circular Stokes component V/Ic, and the normalized integral light I/Ic. Credit: Ilya Ilyin/AIP

Polarimeter1 Polarimeter2

Images 2ab: The two polarimeters SX (left side) and DX (right side) at the two LBT eyes. Credit: Klaus Strassmeier/AIP

 

More information about PEPSI:

pepsi.aip.de

 

More information about LBTO:

www.lbto.org

The LBTO blog: https://lbtonews.blogspot.com/2017/10/the-lbt-gets-polarized-first-light-for.html

 

Science contacts:

Prof. Dr. Klaus G. Strassmeier (Principal Investigator), +49 331-7499 223, kstrassmeier@aip.de

Dr. Ilya Ilyin (project scientist), +49 331-7499 269, ilyin@aip.de

 

Media contacts:

Katrin Albaum (AIP), +49 331-7499 803, presse@aip.de

Christian Veillet (Large Binocular Telescope Observatory),+1 520-349-4576, cveillet@lbto.org

 

The LBT is an international collaboration among institutions in the United States, Italy and Germany. LBT Corporation partners are: The University of Arizona on behalf of the Arizona Board of Regents; Istituto Nazionale di Astrofisica, Italy; LBT Beteiligungsgesellschaft, Germany, representing the Max-Planck Society, The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam, and Heidelberg University; The Ohio State University, and The Research Corporation, on behalf of The University of Notre Dame, University of Minnesota and University of Virginia.

 

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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L'Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for cosmologist Jenny Sorce

Foto: © Foundation L'Oréal | Carl Diner

L'Oréal-UNESCO Fellowship for cosmologist Jenny Sorce

To produce cosmological simulations and study our local neighbourhood in the Universe: The cosmologist Dr. Jenny Sorce received a fellowship of the L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science programme. S...

Women account for only 28 percent of the world’s researchers, according to the UNESCO Science Report toward 2030, published in 2015. With the programme “For Women in Science”, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (in short: UNESCO) strive to support and recognize accomplished women researchers, to encourage more young women to enter the profession and to assist them once their careers are in progress.

Sorce is studying our cosmic home in a box, so to speak. She simulates “numerical boxes” filled with matter to model our local Universe’s formation and evolution, in order to understand the nature of 95 percent of its content that are still unknown. By means of supercomputers that compute the motion of matter, the boxes enable astrophysicists to reproduce the overall history of the Universe from its beginning until now. The part of the Universe we live in appears to be similar to the others, as it contains for example filaments filled with matter and voids – a cosmic web similar to a spider web. “However, when we look closer, this piece of the Universe differs from the others,” says Sorce. “This effect could be compared to looking at a zebra in a herd, among which it is indistinguishable, whereas its fur pattern has its own particularities if we study it in detail.” Thus, Sorce developed new “boxes” that resemble our local neighbourhood in the Universe and that are based on mathematical algorithms as well as astronomical observations, to which she contributed. She uses these boxes to understand our local environment and, also, to deduce its effect on global measurements when astrophysicists observe other parts of the Universe that are further away.

Sorce studied physics and astrophysics at the École normale supérieure de Lyon (ENS de Lyon), France, and did her PhD in astrophysics at the Universities of Lyon, France, and Potsdam. She was also spending a long-term research stay at the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, USA. From 2014 to 2016, she worked as a Humboldt Research postdoctoral fellow. She was awarded the young researcher's prize of Lyon city in 2016.

Each year, the L’Oréal Corporate Foundation, in partnership with the French National Commission for UNESCO and the French Academy of Sciences, awards 30 fellowships to female researchers on the doctoral and postdoctoral level, who are working in the fields of life and physical sciences, and working or studying in France. Internationally, 275 female PhD students and Post-Docs receive one of the fellowships each year across 115 countries.

 

Original press release by the L’Oréal Foundation:

https://www.fondationloreal.com/categories/publications-284/lang/fr

 

Science contacts: Dr. Jenny Sorce, jsorce@aip.de

 

Media contact: Janine Fohlmeister, +49 331-7499 802, 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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Perspectives of Astrophysics in Germany from 2017 to 2030

Presentation of the "Denkschrift 2017" at the annual meeting of the German Astronomical Society 2017. Full caption in the text. Photograph by: Thomas Klawunn

Perspectives of Astrophysics in Germany from 2017 to 2030

19 September 2017. At the annual meeting of the German Astronomical Society 2017, the Council of German Observatories presented the Denkschrift 2017 “Perspectives of astrophysics in Germany 2017-...

The so-called „Denkschriften“ (in content and scope comparable to the decadal report in the US) by the astronomical and astrophysical community have become a kind of tradition in Germany – the previous ones appeared in 1962, 1987, and 2003, and have had considerable science-political influence. “The many breakthroughs of the past decades have only been possible owing to the access to exquisite research infrastructures on the ground and in space,” says Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, Scientific Director of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), president of the German Astronomical Society (in German: Astronomische Gesellschaft) and coordinator of the Denkschrift 2017.

The quintessence of the Denkschrift are the recommendations regarding the participation of Germany in the most important international telescope projects and observatories. In the first place, this involves observatories such as the ESO’s Extremely Large Telescope, which with a mirror diameter of 39 meters will be the “biggest eye on the sky”, as well as the planned facilities on the European Infrastructure Roadmap, such as the radio telescope project Square Kilometre Array (SKA) and the European Solar Telescope (EST). In space science, missions of ESA’s Cosmic Vision program are especially important. Astronomers in Germany actively participate in many of these projects, often in leading positions. In addition to the European ground-based and space-based observatories, individual and bilateral projects should be pursued – especially considering the long-term nature of these projects and in order to keep the specialists of the different disciplines in Germany.

The Denkschrift 2017 is also available online at:
www.denkschrift2017.de
As to primarily address the science-political landscape and decision makers in Germany, the document is written in German. At the beginning, however, there is an Executive Summary in English. The Denkschrift 2017 is based on 20 strategy papers in English that are also published on the website.

Original press release by the German Astronomical Society (in German): www.astronomische-gesellschaft.de/de/aktivitaeten/pressemitteilungen/pmdenk

Science contact: Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz, +49 331-7499 801, msteinmetz@aip.de

Media contact: Dr. Janine Fohlmeister, +49 331-7499 803, jfohlmeister@aip.de

Image: From the left to the right: Prof. Dr. Sami K. Solanki (Director of the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research), Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz (President of the German Astronomical Society), Prof. Dr. Eva Grebel (Director of Astronomisches Recheninstitut at the Centre for Astronomy of Heidelberg University), Prof. Dr. Joachim Wambsganß (Vice President of the German Astronomical Society) und Prof. Dr. Jörn Wilms (University Erlangen-Nürnberg) presenting the Denkschrift 2017. (Photograph by: Thomas Klawunn)

 

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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