Scientific Highlights

Mysterious dimming of Betelgeuse: Dust clearing up

Mysterious dimming of Betelgeuse: Dust clearing up

by Franziska Gräfe last modified Aug 13, 2020 05:00 PM

13 August 2020. Between October 2019 and February 2020 the brightness of the star Betelgeuse has dropped by more than a factor of three. New observations by the NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope and the robotic STELLA telescope of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) now provide an explanation for the phenomenon.

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The ultimate RAVE: final data release published

The ultimate RAVE: final data release published

by Kristin Riebe last modified Jul 27, 2020 03:58 PM

27 July 2020. How do the stars in our Milky Way move? For more than a decade RAVE, one of the first and largest systematic spectroscopic surveys, studied the motion of Milky Way stars. The RAVE collaboration now published the results for over half a million observations in its 6th and final data release. RAVE succeeded in measuring the velocities, temperatures, compositions and distances for different types of stars. The unique database enables scientists to systematically disentangle the structure and evolution history of our Galaxy.

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First images of the Sun from Solar Orbiter

First images of the Sun from Solar Orbiter

by Franziska Gräfe last modified Jul 16, 2020 02:25 PM

16 July 2020. Solar Orbiter, a mission of the space agencies ESA and NASA, publishes for the first time images that show our home star as close as never before. Prior to this, the test phase of all instruments was successfully completed.

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The X-ray sky in its full glory

The X-ray sky in its full glory

by Sarah Hönig last modified Jun 20, 2020 04:30 AM

19 June 2020. The eROSITA space telescope has provided a new, sharp 360° view of the hot and energetic processes across the Universe. The new map contains more than one million objects, roughly doubling the number of known X-ray sources discovered over the 60-year history of X-ray astronomy. Scientists at the Leibniz Institute of Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) have contributed with the discovery of a circular structure caused by a black hole outburst 10,000 years ago.

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Four newborn exoplanets get cooked by their sun

Four newborn exoplanets get cooked by their sun

by Sarah Hönig last modified Jun 11, 2020 09:59 AM

11 June 2020. Scientists from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) examined the fate of the young star V1298 Tau and its four orbiting exoplanets. The results show that these recently born planets are roasted by the intense X-ray radiation of their young sun, which leads to the vaporisation of the gaseous envelope of these planets. The innermost planets could be evaporated down to their rocky cores, so that there is no atmosphere left.

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Total lunar eclipse: observing the Earth as a transiting planet

Total lunar eclipse: observing the Earth as a transiting planet

by Franziska Gräfe last modified Mar 02, 2020 03:57 PM

2 March 2020. Astronomers succeeded in recording sunlight shining through the Earth’s atmosphere in a manner similar to the study of distant exoplanets. During the extraordinary occasion of a lunar eclipse, the Large Binocular Telescope observed the light that was filtered by the Earth’s atmosphere and reflected by the Moon in unique detail. In addition to oxygen and water, atomic spectral lines of sodium, calcium and potassium were detected in our atmosphere in this way first time.

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Towards the Sun

Towards the Sun

by Sarah Hönig last modified Feb 11, 2020 09:27 AM

– Update 11 February 2020 – In the early morning hours of 10 February, the Solar Orbiter space probe started its journey into space. The mission of the European Space Agency (ESA) will explore the Sun at close range. On board is the X-ray telescope STIX, which was developed and built with involvement from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).

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Sun under double observation

Sun under double observation

by Franziska Gräfe last modified Feb 10, 2020 09:44 AM

– Update 29 January 2020 – At the end of January, NASA's space probe "Parker Solar Probe" is approaching the Sun for the fourth time, this time up to a distance of only 28 solar radii. Never before has a spacecraft been so close to our home star. An international project under the auspices of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) adds ground-based measurements at the same time – enabling completely new insights into solar activity and its effects on Earth.

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X-ray eye in space celebrates 20 years

X-ray eye in space celebrates 20 years

by Sarah Hönig last modified Jan 20, 2020 09:28 AM

20 January 2020. At the beginning of the millennium, the European Space Agency's XMM-Newton space telescope started observing the X-ray sky. On the occasion of its 20th anniversary, scientists, including those at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), are now publishing new catalogues of all X-ray sources discovered with XMM-Newton.

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Of harps, Christmas trees, a wandering star and the mysterious streams of cosmic rays

Of harps, Christmas trees, a wandering star and the mysterious streams of cosmic rays

by Kristin Riebe last modified Jan 07, 2020 05:01 PM

19 December 2019. Researchers at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP), and the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching (MPA), have investigated galactic radio objects that adopt shapes such as Christmas trees and harps. With the help of these objects, the old question of how cosmic radiation propagates could be answered.

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Three supermassive black holes discovered at the core of one galaxy

Three supermassive black holes discovered at the core of one galaxy

by Sarah Hönig last modified Dec 18, 2019 11:27 AM

21 November 2019. An international research team led by scientists from Göttingen and Potsdam have for the first time shown that the galaxy NGC 6240 contains three supermassive black holes. The unique observations, published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, reveal the black holes close to each other in the core of the galaxy. The study points to simultaneous merging processes during the formation of the largest galaxies in the universe.

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An overlooked piece of the solar dynamo puzzle

An overlooked piece of the solar dynamo puzzle

by Sarah Hönig last modified Oct 28, 2019 10:28 AM

28 October 2019. A previously unobserved mechanism is at work in the Sun’s rotating plasma: a magnetic instability, which scientists had thought was physically impossible under these conditions. The effect might even play a crucial role in the formation of the Sun’s magnetic field, say researchers from Helmholtz-Zentrum Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the University of Leeds and the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP).

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eROSITA – first glimpse into the hot universe

eROSITA – first glimpse into the hot universe

by Sarah Hönig last modified Oct 22, 2019 03:38 PM

22 October 2019. The German space telescope eROSITA has now published the first astounding images of the hot universe. With all seven “X-ray eyes” it targeted a rare neutron star, the Large Magellanic Cloud and interacting galaxy clusters.

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A new, spectacular view of the Large Magellanic Cloud

A new, spectacular view of the Large Magellanic Cloud

by Sarah Hönig last modified Nov 15, 2019 04:53 PM

13 September 2019. The VISTA survey of the Magellanic Clouds, led by Maria-Rosa Cioni of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), reveals a remarkable new image of the Large Magellanic Cloud. The telescope, part of ESO’s Paranal observatory, has been surveying this galaxy and its sibling, the Small Magellanic Cloud, as well as their surroundings, in unprecedented detail for the last decade.

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Chemical element potassium detected in an exoplanet atmosphere

Chemical element potassium detected in an exoplanet atmosphere

by Sarah Hönig last modified Oct 28, 2019 02:53 PM

4 September 2019. A team of astronomers led by AIP PhD student Engin Keles detected the chemical element potassium in the atmosphere of an exoplanet, for the first time with overwhelming significance and applying high-resolution spectroscopy. The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona was used to study the atmosphere on the Jupiter-like exoplanet HD189733b.

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New 3D view of the Milky Way reveals the central Galactic bar

New 3D view of the Milky Way reveals the central Galactic bar

by Sarah Hönig last modified Aug 27, 2019 10:41 AM

16 July 2019. By combining the results from ESA’s Gaia mission’s second data release (DR2) with complementary observations, scientists under the leadership of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) and the University of Barcelona present a map of our Milky Way that shows the central bar structure.

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eROSITA X-ray telescope launch

eROSITA X-ray telescope launch

by Sarah Hönig last modified Jul 15, 2019 12:33 PM

– Update 13 July 2019 – eROSITA, the main payload for the Russian-German “Spectrum-X-Gamma” mission, has been launched with a Proton-M rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on 13 July. eROSITA will constrain the evolutionary properties of dark energy and discover millions of active galactic nuclei and thousands of compact objects in our Milky Way.

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Nova rediscovered after more than 2,000 years

Nova rediscovered after more than 2,000 years

by Sarah Hönig last modified Apr 30, 2019 03:27 PM

29 April 2019. Modern astronomical observations now discovered the remnant of a nova explosion whose position corresponds to a celestial phenomenon described in ancient Chinese records. The discovery thus confirms one of the oldest astronomical observations outside the solar system.

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Nearby galaxy shows how the young, dark Universe became illuminated

Nearby galaxy shows how the young, dark Universe became illuminated

by Sarah Hönig last modified Jul 17, 2019 11:43 AM

25 March 2019. A team of astronomers found a nearby star-forming galaxy to emit energetic photons in a similar way to the first generation of galaxies. These first galaxies turned the Universe transparent, less than one billion years after the Big Bang.

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Stellar Cartography

Stellar Cartography

by Kristin Riebe last modified Mar 19, 2019 04:57 PM

19 March 2019. The Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona released its first image of the surface magnetic field of another star. In a paper in the European journal Astronomy & Astrophysics, the PEPSI team presents a Zeeman- Doppler-Image of the surface of the magnetically active star II Pegasi.

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