News

There are currently no public events at the AIP. New dates for the Starry Nights in Babelsberg as well as for Observation nights in the Great Refractor will be announced in time.

AIP Schwarzschild Fellow Marcel Pawlowski receives Klaus Tschira Boost Fund

Dr. Marcel Pawlowski. Credit: private

AIP Schwarzschild Fellow Marcel Pawlowski receives Klaus Tschira Boost Fund

11 May 2020. Dr. Marcel Pawlowski, Schwarzschild Fellow at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), receives funding from the Klaus Tschira Foundation and the German Scholars Organisat...

The funded project deals with the motion of small galaxies, so-called satellite galaxies, around the Milky Way. Leading cosmological models predict that such satellite galaxies distribute and move rather randomly. However, observations show surprising degrees of order: The satellites are preferentially distributed and move along flattened structures. These "Planes of Satellite Galaxies" fundamentally question our understanding of cosmology and galaxy formation.

“I will study systems of satellite galaxies in a range of cosmological simulations to determine the occurrence, properties, and origins of satellite planes, and determine whether they can tell us something about the properties of the host galaxy or the nature of dark matter,” explains Marcel Pawlowski. “I am excited that, in addition to traditional research funding, the KT Boost Fund lets me realise ideas that are often more difficult to fund, such as the organisation of an interdisciplinary hackathon at the AIP to bring together international experts and develop novel research ideas.” Pawlowski joined the AIP in Potsdam as a Schwarzschild Fellow in 2018. Prior to that he was a Hubble Fellow at the University of California in Irvine and a postdoc at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, Ohio.

For the second time, the Klaus Tschira Foundation and the German Scholars Organisation have selected young researchers to be supported by the "Klaus Tschira Boost Fund" programme. Over the next two years, a total of eleven young researchers will receive up to 80,000 euros in funding for their projects. The programme is aimed at excellent researchers in the natural sciences, mathematics, and computer science. The independent funding will enable the fellows to implement their own projects within two years. Support is provided primarily for interdisciplinary and international projects, including more daring research projects. The aim of the programme is to enable young researchers to conduct independent research and to sharpen their profile as early as possible.

 

Press release of the Klaus Tschira Stiftung:

https://www.klaus-tschira-stiftung.de/klaus-tschira-stiftung-und-german-scholars-organization-foerdern-elf-junge-forschende-mit-je-80-000-euro/

More about the project:

https://www.gsonet.org/foerderprogramme/klaus-tschira-boost-fund/fellows/fellows2020/marcel-pawlowski.html

Media contact AIP:

Sarah Hönig, 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.

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Science donates equipment to health care facilities

In the laboratories of the AIP, gloves are used to inspect sensitive components, such as this holographic grating. Credit: AIP

Science donates equipment to health care facilities

1 April 2020. The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) provides protective equipment to fight the corona epidemic. The Minister of Science and Culture Manja Schüle hands over the utens...

Several boxes of protective suits, overalls, breathing masks, gloves, and disinfectants will be collected centrally at the fire station and distributed by the city as needed. In addition to the AIP, the donors include the Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology in Potsdam-Golm, the Leibniz Institute for Agricultural Engineering and Bioeconomy in Potsdam, the Leibniz Institute of Vegetable and Ornamental Crops in Großbeeren and DESY in the Helmholtz Association in Zeuthen as well as the Film University Babelsberg KONRAD WOLF. Further material comes from the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Plant Physiology in Potsdam-Golm.

The AIP provides gloves, face masks, and overshoes, which are normally used by the institute’s Technical Section. This protective clothing and equipment comes from the laboratories and workshops, where instruments for telescopes and satellites are developed and built. For example, it is not possible to enter a cleanroom without protective clothing. Likewise, the equipment in the laboratories provides protection against hazardous substances and prevents the contamination of sensitive components such as cameras or lenses.

 

MWFK press release

https://mwfk.brandenburg.de/mwfk/de/service/pressemitteilungen/ansicht/~31-03-2020-schutzausruestung-fuer-potsdam

Media contact AIP

Dr. Janine Fohlmeister, 0331 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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Total lunar eclipse: observing the Earth as a transiting planet

The Sun as seen from the Tycho crater on the Moon during a total lunar eclipse on Earth. When the Sun sets behind the northern Pacific, its disk completely disappears behind Earth. Credit: AIP/Strassmeier/Fohlmeister

Total lunar eclipse: observing the Earth as a transiting planet

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 lun...

When an exoplanet transits in front of its host star, astronomers may be able to record both the dimming of the starlight that the planet blocks and also the starlight that shines through the planet’s atmosphere. While it is only a tiny signal, it contains the imprint of the planet’s chemical and physical signature and provides the principal possibility to measure the planet’s atmospheric constituents. In astrophysics, this technique is called transmission spectroscopy, and is a relatively young technique booming since many exoplanet transits were detected from space. “While, so far, only applicable to super-sized Jupiters, that is oversized Jupiter-like planets orbiting close to their host star, we are most interested in Earth-like planets and whether we could detect more complex molecular signatures in an exo-Earth transmission spectrum possibly even hinting for life,” explains Klaus Strassmeier from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam (AIP), the leading author of the now published study. „While not yet doable for any Earth-like exoplanet transit, a total lunar eclipse, which is a total solar eclipse when seen from our own Moon, is nothing else than a transit of our own Earth, and indirectly observable.”

The sunlight that passes through the Earth’s atmosphere before it reaches the Moon and back reflects to Earth is called the Earthshine. The Earth’s atmosphere contains many by-products of biological activity, such as oxygen and ozone in association with water vapor, methane and carbon dioxide. These biogenic molecules present attractive narrow molecular bands at optical and near infrared wavelengths for detection in atmospheres of other planets. Taking the Earth as the prototype of a habitable planet, Earthshine observations provide the possibility to verify biogenic and related chemical elemental presence with the same techniques that otherwise are being used for observing stars with super Jupiter planets. Earthshine is thus an ideal test case for future exo-Earth detections with the new generation of extremely large telescopes.

January 2019 featured a total lunar eclipse. The Moon dimmed by a factor of 20,000 during totality which is the reason why the light gathering capability of the 11.8 m Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona was needed for the observations. Additionally, the high spectral resolution of the Potsdam Echelle Polarimetric and Spectroscopic Instrument (PEPSI) was necessary to separate the expected tiny spectral-line absorptions of the Earth’s atmosphere from the normal solar spectrum at unprecedented spectral resolution and in polarized light.

“PEPSI has already made significant contributions to the study of exoplanets through the observation of their transit in front of their sun,” adds Christian Veillet, LBT Observatory's Director. “Looking at the Earth as an exoplanet thanks to a total lunar eclipse well-suited to LBT's location in Arizona, and adding polarimetry to the exquisite resolution of the PEPSI spectrograph, resulted in the detection of sodium, calcium, and potassium in Earth's atmosphere."

 

Snapshot spectra of terrestrial molecular oxygen and water vapor absorption. Intensity is plotted versus wavelength in Angstroem. Time increases from bottom up as indicated in UT hh:mm:ss. Immediately noticeable is the dramatic increase of O2 and H2O absorption during eclipse (central four spectra) with respect to outside eclipse (other spectra). Oxygen molecules create the so-called A-band at 7600 Å, H2O is seen as myriads of individual absorption lines in the range 7850–9100 Å.

Credit: AIP/Strassmeier


Detailed look at the wavelengths around the potassium line at 7699 Å. Time increases bottom up and is again indicated as UT. The bottom spectrum is a comparison spectrum of the full moon outside of eclipse. Red color denotes times of totality, black times of partiality, and blue out of eclipse. Note that the spectral lines flanking the potassium line are from two terrestrial water vapor absorptions.

Credit: AIP/Strassmeier

 

More information on PEPSI and the LBT

https://pepsi.aip.de

http://www.lbto.org

Science contact

Prof. Dr. Klaus G. Strassmeier, 0331-7499-223, kstrassmeier@aip.de

Media contact

Dr. Janine Fohlmeister, 0331-7499-803, presse@aip.de

Publication

Klaus G. Strassmeier, Ilya Ilyin, Engin Keles, Matthias Mallonn, Arto Järvinen, Michael Weber, Felix Mackebrandt, and John M. Hill, 2020, Astronomy & Astrophysics, in press

http://arxiv.org/abs/2002.08690

 

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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Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Rädler (1935-2020)

Prof. Karl-Heinz Rädler (Credit: AIP)

Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Rädler (1935-2020)

The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) mourns the loss of Prof. Dr. Karl-Heinz Rädler. On the 9th of February, 2020, he passed away at the age of 84. As the founding director of the ...

In the 1970s, Karl-Heinz Rädler was able to explain the creation of magnetic fields in stars and planets with the dynamo model. He was also significantly involved in the theoretical preparation of earth-based experiments with liquid sodium, in which it was possible to understand the principle of the cosmic dynamo for the first time. His work was known worldwide during his time as a scientist at the Central Institute for Astrophysics in the GDR. From 1992 to 2000 he headed the Cosmic Magnetic Fields branch at the AIP and was editor of the Astronomische Nachrichten magazine.

In 1998 Karl-Heinz Rädler received the Emil Wiechert Medal from the German Geophysical Society, which honors outstanding work in the scientific discipline of geophysics. The Urania Potsdam also awarded him the Wilhelm Foerster Prize in 1998 for his popular scientific achievements. In 2013, he received the Karl Schwarzschild Medal of the Astronomical Society, the highest award for astronomical research in Germany.

From 1994 to 2000 Karl-Heinz Rädler was a professor at the University of Potsdam. He was also a member of the founding senate of the European University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder).

We will remember his commitment to our institute with thanks.

Our condolences go to his family, friends and all who were close to him.

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Towards the Sun

Artist’s impression of Solar Orbiter in front of the Sun. Credit: ESA/ATG Medialab

Towards the Sun

– 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 ...

Solar Orbiter will approach the Sun reaching a minimum distance of 0.28 astronomical units (1 AU = the distance between Earth and the Sun). Among other things, it will, for the first time, provide images of the Sun's polar regions, which are very difficult to observe from Earth. The scientists also hope to be able to observe solar storms over a longer period of time.

Solar Orbiter is equipped with ten instruments to collect scientific data. Four of these instruments measure the direct environment of the space probe, whereas the remaining six observe the surface and atmosphere of the Sun. One of them is the X-ray telescope STIX (short for: Spectrometer/Telescope for Imaging X-rays), which was developed and built by an international team led by the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland (FHNW). During an eight-year development process, AIP scientists created the basic design of the telescope’s imager, manufactured mechanical parts and participated in the assembly and testing of the instrument. The latter two are of immense importance because the probe and its modules have to withstand strong vibrations and large temperature fluctuations – between +60 and -30 degrees Celsius in the probe’s interior.

 

The instrument STIX. Credit: H. Önel (AIP)

 

X-rays are generated in the outer solar atmosphere, the corona, and provide information about the activity of the Sun. With STIX, astronomers plan to investigate how solar flares are produced and how they can affect the Sun, the space between the planets and even the Earth, as well as our increasingly technological society.

“I am particularly looking forward to this launch and hope that it will be successful, since I have been working on the concept of Solar Orbiter for 25 years,” states Gottfried Mann, head of the STIX team at AIP. “Our active participation in the X-ray telescope on NASA's RHESSI spacecraft gave us the opportunity to use our expertise to build STIX. Starting in 2022, the instrument will take X-ray images of the Sun. We hope that this will give us a better understanding of the mechanisms of eruptions on our home star,” explains Mann.

Solar Orbiter will be launched on 10 February at 5:03 a.m. German time with an Atlas-V launcher provided by NASA from Cape Canaveral in Florida, USA. It will then gradually approach the Sun via complex manoeuvres. The probe will perform a so-called gravity assist near Earth and a total of eight near Venus. It will use the gravity of the planets to reduce or increase its speed. This way, the orbit around the Sun will be adjusted, with Solar Orbiter moving outside of the Earth's plane to observe the Sun’s poles. The mission is designed for a duration of ten years, during which time Solar Orbiter will provide answers to many open questions in solar physics at close range and from a unique perspective.

 

ESA-website on Solar Orbiter

http://bit.ly/Solar_Orbiter_ESA

More information about STIX

http://bit.ly/AIP_Solar_Orbiter_en

Science contact

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

Media contact

Sarah Hönig, 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 ...