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

Prof. Karl-Heinz Rädler (Credit: private)

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.

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"Working with your head and your hands" – Apprenticeship at the AIP

Apprentices Cornelius Lübke and Leander Leibnitz at work in the precision engineering workshop. Credit: AIP

"Working with your head and your hands" – Apprenticeship at the AIP

3 February 2020. In addition to excellent astrophysical research, the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) excels in the development of modern research infrastructure. This is possible ...

Why did you choose the AIP as the place of your apprenticeship?

Cornelius Lübke (CL): The AIP’s job advertisement immediately caught my interest because the apprenticeship as a precision machinist includes a very diverse range of activities. Furthermore, the special focus on precision mechanics is only offered at a few locations in Brandenburg.

Leander Leibnitz (LL): "First, the AIP provides the opportunity to learn all of the many manual work techniques in detail, with plenty of practice time; for example, you are taught to work with both lathes and milling machines, which is not the case in every company. Secondly, for me the AIP provided the best conditions during the apprenticeship period.

What was your motivation for your choice of career?

CL: The reasons I decided to train as a precision machinist are complex. For a start, I have been tinkering and building for half my life, and my father has already given me an impression of the activities involved in the precision mechanics trade. The decisive factor for me was to be able to learn new techniques during my apprenticeship and to expand and constantly improve my skills and areas of expertise.

LL: My motivation was to learn new skills in a profession that requires manual dexterity and high manufacturing precision. Besides, I wanted to be financially independent.

Have you always wanted to do an apprenticeship or did you also consider studying at university?

CL: I realized early on that I would opt for vocational training because the thorough and practical training offered by the dual system is unique. It is also possible to move into academic study afterwards.

LL: At first, I wanted to attend university, but eventually decided against it. The reason for my decision is that during my apprenticeship I can put the knowledge I have acquired into practice quickly. A course of university study is mainly concerned with theory.

What does a typical working day look like for an apprentice at the AIP?

LL: On a typical working day I would manufacture a specific workpiece, which helps with mastering particular skills and abilities. The tasks vary according to the stage of the apprenticeship. The manufacturing task is first discussed in theory and it is then executed independently. The master craftsman and the journeymen are on hand to help with questions or problems.

What advantages do you see in an apprenticeship in the trade?

CL: Definitely the opportunity to work with your head and your hands. The various production steps must be planned and then carried out properly. After finishing the workpiece, I always get a feeling of happiness and satisfaction to have completed a part.

What’s next after the end of your apprenticeship?

CL: I am very lucky to be able to continue working at the AIP for another year. In the long term, I would like to further improve myself in the trade. Lately, I have been thinking about working and continuing to learn abroad.

LL: I will also continue to work on current projects at the AIP for one more year, which will allow me to gain more practical experience.

What advice would you give young people who are thinking about training as a precision machinist?

LL: Anyone thinking about an apprenticeship should have manual skills as well as being open to new things, willing to learn, patient, a team player and reliable. I can highly recommend this apprenticeship because it is fun, exciting and versatile. Not only do you learn many different material processing techniques, but also the basics of pneumatics and electro-pneumatics, CNC programming, CAD/CAM and much more.

 

We thank both apprentices for the interview. The AIP is currently looking for two new apprentices in the workshop. The announcement can be found here: http://www.aip.de/azubi-fm.

 

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.

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Sun under double observation

Parker Solar Probe. (Credit: NASA)

Sun under double observation

– 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 be...

Parker Solar Probe was launched in August 2018 and has already approached the Sun three times in its perihelion. This time is extra special: The Sun, the spacecraft and the Earth are aligned, so that the spacecraft can observe the same areas of the Sun as telescopes on Earth. Utilizing this constellation, the AIP observes the Sun from Earth using the radio interferometer LOFAR (LOw Freqency ARray) jointly with the spacecraft's instruments.

The AIP is a member of the International LOFAR Telescope and operates its own LOFAR station in Potsdam-Bornim. Within LOFAR, the AIP leads the key science project "Solar Physics and Space Weather with LOFAR". It involves 30 scientists from 11 European countries. Under the leadership of the AIP, 1064 hours of observations of the Sun using LOFAR were acquired. The solar physicists of the AIP are involved in the international working group "Solar Energetic Particles" of the space mission PSP.

The NASA satellite Parker Solar Probe will be the first space mission to approach the sun up until 10 solar radii, thus providing scientists with new insights into our home star in the next years.

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 researches, among other things, the sun and space weather. Together with other international scientists, he has secured simultaneous observation time with LOFAR and Parker Solar Probe– a total of 1,064 hours until 2020. "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.

 

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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X-ray eye in space celebrates 20 years

Six partly overlapping X-ray observations of the open star cluster NGC 2264. Credit: I. Traulsen (AIP)

X-ray eye in space celebrates 20 years

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, in...

The XMM-Newton space telescope was successfully launched from Kourou in French Guiana on 10 December, 1999, and has been recording data since 19 January, 2000. The European consortium XMM-Newton Survey Science Centre (XMM-SSC) has now published new catalogues, prepared with state-of-the-art calibration and software, containing all X-ray detections since launch. The AIP, a founding member of the consortium, contributed software for the search of X-ray objects and was in charge of the production of one of the catalogues.

XMM-Newton has detected more than 550,000 individual celestial objects. Since some regions of the sky have been observed several times, this results in 810,795 X-ray sources in single observations. Most of the detected objects are new discoveries and often of unknown but diverse nature.

Most of these objects are supermassive black holes that are between one million and one billion times heavier than our Sun, each of which is located at the centre of its own galaxy. XMM-Newton uses its X-ray eye to detect the matter swirling around these invisible objects until it reaches the event horizon of the black hole – the point of no return, where not even light can escape the black hole's pull. Other objects in the catalogue include stars, galaxy clusters, comets and supernovae.

Axel Schwope, project manager at the AIP, explains enthusiastically: "With X-ray eyes, we can discover the part of the universe that is invisible to our eyes and dominated by extremely energetic processes and high temperatures. It is fascinating that even after 20 years in space, XMM-Newton provides first-class observational data for all possible fields of astrophysics day after day".

AIP Scientists also prepared another catalogue with information on faint sources that have been observed several times. A software developed especially for this purpose adds together overlapping observations to detect the faintest sources in the sky, increasing the number of X-ray sources discovered. These multiple observations also show how some objects change their brightness over time.

"The study of objects over a period of almost twenty years gives us a great insight into their nature. For example, changes in the brightness of X-ray light allow us to draw conclusions about the ways in which completely different objects collect matter from their surroundings. These changes can originate from stars that are torn apart in the vicinity of black holes, and some of them are not yet understood", explains Iris Traulsen, the scientist at the AIP who is responsible for the catalogue.

These catalogues enable astronomers to study high-energy objects that are often not visible to humans. The area of the sky that XMM-Newton has so far examined in great detail is about 6000 times the area of the full moon, which is still a only one fortieth of the entire sky. X-ray observations are essential to discover and understand high-energy processes in all parts of astrophysics: from the conditions around extrasolar planets to the evolution of stars, black holes and galaxies, and the study of hot gas in galaxy clusters and large structures in the universe.

 

Six partly overlapping X-ray observations of the open star cluster NGC 2264: Stars that emit light mainly at low X-ray energies appear reddish, especially hot objects at high energies appear bluish. The smaller images show, for three selected stars, the changes in brightness during a single observation (top left), the evolution of brightness over a period of thirteen years (top middle), and an X-ray spectrum showing the star's brightness at different energies ("colours") (bottom left).

Credit: I. Traulsen (AIP)

 

Catalogue website

http://xmmssc.irap.omp.eu/

IRAP press release

http://xmmssc.irap.omp.eu/4XMMprEnglish.html

Science contact AIP

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

Dr. Axel Schwope, 0331 7499 232, aschwope@aip.de

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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