News

Starry Night on April 18

Credit: ESO/L. Wisotzki

Starry Night on April 18

The Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) invites to the next Starry Night in Babelsberg on Thursday, April 18, 2019, starting at 7:15 pm with a public lecture of Professor Lutz Wisotzki...

Please check the German site for a short description of the topic.

 

After the talk, we offer a tour over the AIP campus and – if the sight is clear – an observation with one of our historical reflecting telescopes.

 

We look forward to your visit!

 

Free entry, no previous registration necessary.

 

AIP, An der Sternwarte 16, 14482 Potsdam

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AIP successful in European contest for knowledge and technology transfer

Credits: NASA, Zarya Maxim/stock.adobe.com; Montage: University of Potsdam, ZIM

AIP successful in European contest for knowledge and technology transfer

April 8 2019. From galaxy research to the fight against cancer – the research and innovation center innoFSPEC, part of the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), receives funding by th...

The rewarded idea is based on accomplishments in the transfer of high-technology from astronomy research to cancer diagnostics. The aim is an optical design study for the development of a prototype suitable for clinical studies. The innoFSPEC team under leadership of Prof. Dr. Martin Roth and a French industry partner, Winlight Systems, jointly and successfully entered the Attract contest. As part of the transfer idea “3D-CANCER-SPEC”, they will now develop a compact screening device, based on an original MUSE spectrograph, in a one-year funding phase. The concept will be publicized in a science journal and a presentation at the final Attract conference in September 2020 in Brussels. This support is expected to encourage funding of a medical device by funding bodies or industrial companies.

Basic research, as it is practiced at the AIP, facilitates excellence in the development of high-technology. Imaging spectroscopy with instruments like PMAS and MUSE and the analysis of huge amounts of data (big data) with artificial intelligence in eScience are some examples. Since its establishment in 2009, the research and innovation center innoFSPEC Potsdam engages in the utilization of high-technology developed during its research of optical technologies and photonics for economy and society. Among the center’s efforts is the transfer of imaging spectroscopy in astronomy to minimally invasive cancer diagnostics. This experiment, a cooperation with Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin, was successfully completed in 2018 with a publication in the renowned Journal of Biomedical Optics. Additionally, two further projects in the Leibniz research alliance Health Technologies address bladder cancer diagnostics and technological improvements for use in surgery. These projects in partnership with the Leibniz Association and industry partners have already led to one patent application.

One stated aim of the Pact for Research and Innovation is to strengthen the exchange of science with economy and society. Against this background, the biggest European research organizations such as the high energy laboratory CERN, the X-ray laser laboratory XFEL or the European South Observatory ESO have sponsored the project ATTRACT with a total of 17 million euros funded by the European Commission. All in all, the project rewards 170 exceptional transfer ideas in the area of detecting and imaging technologies. Among them are promising application innovations in microelectronics, information and communication or life sciences and medical technology.

 

Attract Website

https://attract-eu.com/

innoFSPEC Website

https://innofspec.de/en/

More about Muse

https://www.aip.de/en/research/research-area-drt/research-groups-and-projects-1/3d-spectroscopy/muse/development-of-the-muse-integral-field-spectrograph

Scientific contact

Prof. Dr. Martin Matthias Roth, 0331-7499-313, mmroth@aip.de

Media contact

Sarah Hönig, 0331-7499-803, presse@aip.de

Publication

Elmar Schmälzlin, Benito Moralejo, Ingo Gersonde, Johannes Schleusener, Maxim E. Darvin, Gisela Thiede, Martin M. Roth, “ Nonscanning large-area Raman imaging for ex vivo /in vivo skin cancer discrimination,” J. Biomed. Opt. 23 (10), 105001 (2018)

https://doi.org/10.1117/1.JBO.23.10.105001

 

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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Nearby galaxy shows how the young, dark Universe became illuminated

Green pea galaxy NGC 2366 resolved in thousands of blue (young) stars. Nebulae appear as red/rose areas. Mrk 71, the brightest one, is indicated by the arrow. Credits: J. van Eymeren & A. R. López- Sánchez (ATNF)

Nearby galaxy shows how the young, dark Universe became illuminated

March 25 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 tran...

Astronomers from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP) have, for the first time, studied the complex mechanism of the escape of the ultraviolet light from galaxies using the Potsdam Multi- aperture Spectrophotometer (PMAS) at the Calar Alto Observatory in Spain. PMAS was developed and built at the AIP, and is in regular operation at the Calar Alto 3.5m telescope. Detailed physical analysis of the now published unique observations provide evidence for a supersonic speed outflow of gas. A similar process likely took place in the early Universe.

The Era of Reionization

The young Universe was a dark place. A few hundred million years after the Big Bang the first stars formed, and their ultraviolet radiation ionized the hydrogen atoms that populated the Universe and absorbed the radiation. This is called the Era of Reionization, and marks the time when the Universe became transparent to light (and, hence, observable). Now, the astronomers have used the PMAS instrument to study a green pea, a local analog to the first galaxies, to better understand how ultraviolet light escapes and ionizes distant areas, in a process similar to that of Reionization. “Because of this enormous distance, we cannot observe the galaxies that hosted these first stars, even with future planned extremely large telescopes. The only thing we can do is to find local analogs to such galaxies, and study them instead of their more distant cousins. Astronomers have invented a funny name for them, green peas, because they glow in green light”, says Genoveva Micheva, astronomer at the AIP and first author of the study.

The closest green pea is NGC 2366, a dwarf galaxy somewhat irregular in shape that looks like the Large Magellanic Cloud. At a distance of only 11 million light-years away from us, NGC 2366 is close enough to be studied in detail. In its southern part lies Mrk 71, a giant nebula and two clusters of young, hot stars illuminating the gas (mostly hydrogen) around it. Such large nebular complexes are the locations of active ongoing formations of massive stars.

How Ultraviolet Light Escapes

Mrk 71 is so large that it dominates the ionization properties of the whole NGC 2366 galaxy, that is, it emits photons so energetic that they are able to remove the single electron of each atom of hydrogen around it. Energetic ultraviolet light, that astronomers think is responsible for powering the ancient epoch of Reionization, is escaping the confines of this galaxy. This light is extremely sensitive to the presence of gas and dust, which readily absorbs and scatters it. For this reason, it has thus far been unclear exactly how the energetic ultraviolet light escapes.

Studying this region with the PMAS spectrometer at the Calar Alto Observatory, Micheva and her colleagues discovered hints to a very fast biconical outflow of gas, probably caused by star forming events. The outflow starts at a young cluster of stars, tens of times more massive than the Sun, detected previously by the Hubble Space Telescope. This outflow punches a hole in the gas, which clears the way for the energetic ultraviolet light to escape from the galaxy unimpeded. “We find supporting evidence for this scenario by creating and examining spatial maps of the electron temperature and density, the speed of sound and the Mach number”, says Micheva. The average Mach number inside of Mrk 71, which represents the ratio of velocity to the speed of sound, is supersonic and increases to hypersonic outside of the core of the region. This indicates a sudden drop in gas density. “We show that this drop in density can be quite dramatic, enough to reduce the gas density to levels completely transparent to ionizing photons”, emphasizes Micheva.

It is likely that a similar process takes place in the distant Universe, where powerful outflows could puncture the dense gas of their host galaxies and hence clear the way for escape, making the Universe transparent after the “dark ages” of its beginning.

The German-Spanish Astronomical Center at Calar Alto is located in the Sierra de Los Filabres (Andalucía, Southern Spain) north of Almeria. It is operated jointly by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg, Germany, and the Instituto de Astrofísica de Andalucía (CSIC) in Granada/Spain. Junta de Andalucía is about to take over MPIA as a co-partner of the Calar Alto Observatory.

 

Original Publication

G. Micheva et al. “IFU investigation of possible Lyman continuum escape from Mrk71/NGC 2366”, 2019, A&A, 623, A145 (https://www.aanda.org/10.1051/0004-6361/201834838)

CAHA Press Release

http://www.caha.es/

More info on PMAS

https://www.aip.de/en/research/research-area-drt/research-groups-and-projects-1/3d-spectroscopy/pmas/galaxy-survey-with-pmas

Scientific contact

Dr. Genoveva Micheva, 0331-7499-657, gmicheva@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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Girls' Day/Future Day 2019

On March 28, 2019, the Future Day will take place once again. On this nationwide day of action, female students from the 5th grade onwards have the opportunity to gain insight into occupational fie...

It gives young participants a chance to look over astrophysicists' shoulders and learn more about working in science. How is everyday life for an astrophysicist? Where do the questions come from whose answer researchers are looking for? Which steps are part of the research process?

 

At this year's Girls’ Day, employees of the AIP present their work, showcasing

current projects and answering the questions of the students. They learn more about the history and meaning of constellations, create their own star map and immerse themselves in the exciting world of galaxy research. They also look behind the scenes of the historic site of the observatory Babelsberg and look - in case of suitable weather conditions - even through the telescope in the sky.

 

The limited to twenty participants seats were booked out after a short time.

 

Media contact:

Franziska Gräfe, 0331 7499-803, presse@aip.de

Further information:
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Stellar Cartography

Stellar environment of the star II Pegasi. Shown is the magnetic-field extrapolation out to 2.2 stellar radii. Open field lines are depicted in colour (magenta: negative polarity, green: positive polarity, closed loops are in white.) Credit: AIP

Stellar Cartography

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 anot...

A special technique allows astronomers to resolve the surfaces of faraway stars. Those are otherwise only seen as point sources, even in the largest telescopes and interferometers. This technique, referred to as Doppler imaging or Doppler tomography, requires a high-resolution spectrograph, usually a large telescope, lots of observing time, and nifty analysis software. Each atomic spectral line can be seen as a compressed one-dimensional “image” of the stellar surface, which, if the star rotates, becomes broadened by the Doppler-effect. If a star has spots on its surface, just like our Sun has sunspots, the Doppler-broadened spectral line profiles will be selectively deformed. A time series of such spectral line profiles taken over a full stellar rotation can then be converted to a temperature (or brightness) image of the otherwise unresolved stellar surface, just like in medical brain tomography.

But PEPSI can go a major step further. Because its two polarimeters also feed polarized light to the spectrograph, PEPSI captures the otherwise hidden profile deformation due to the Zeeman-effect. The Zeeman-effect is the splitting and polarization of spectral lines due to an external magnetic field. Combined with the rotational Doppler-effect it allows the reconstruction of the star’s surface magnetic field geometry. The cartography in polarized light is thus called Zeeman-Doppler-Imaging.

In a dedicated observing run with PEPSI attached to the effective 11.8m LBT a team of AIP astronomers was able to obtain a unique time series of polarized high-resolution spectra of the rotating star II Pegasi. “II Peg has a rotation period of 6.7 days and is thus manageable with the LBT in terms of the required observing time”, says the PEPSI Principal Investigator (PI) and author of the II Peg study Prof. Klaus Strassmeier from the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics in Potsdam, Germany (AIP). “And with seven clear nights we were very lucky as well”, adds the PEPSI project scientist Ilya Ilyin. The already complex polarized spectra were analyzed with the special inverse mapping code iMap developed at the AIP. Once applied, the surprise was big when warm and cool starspots were reconstructed from the PEPSI data and they appeared with opposite polarity.

“The warm features had positive polarity on II Peg while most of the cool features had negative or mixed polarity”, says iMap-PI Thorsten Carroll. The spot distribution on II Peg has no direct analogy on the Sun. The individual spots found on this star are huge compared to the Sun, about thousand times larger than sunspots. “We explain the co-existing warm spots of II Peg due to heating by a shock front caused by the plasma flow between regions of different polarities”, concludes Strassmeier. "Both as a spectrograph and as a spectropolarimeter, PEPSI is unique in today's worldwide suite of astronomical instruments and will make significant contributions to stellar physics", adds Christian Veillet, LBT Observatory's Director. "The need to characterize the stars hosting exoplanets, as well as the planets themselves through transit observations, should also make PEPSI a sought-after instrument to the members of the LBT community.”

 

Geburtsstätten der Sterne
Doppler image (top, panel a) and Zeeman-Doppler image (bottom, panel b) of the star II Pegasi. Credit: AIP

 

More information on PEPSI and the LBT

https://pepsi.aip.de

http://www.lbto.org

Scientific contact

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

Dr. Thorsten Carroll, 0331-7499-207, tcarroll@aip.de

Dr. Ilya Ilyin, 0331-7499-269, ilyin@aip.de

Dr. Christian Veillet (LBT Observatory), +1 (520) 621-5286, cveillet@lbto.org

Media contact

Franziska Gräfe, 0331-7499-803, presse@aip.de

Movies

http://bit.ly/PEPSI_Movies

Original publication

K. G. Strassmeier, T. A. Carroll, & I. V. Ilyin, Warm and cool starspots with opposite polarities. A high- resolution Zeeman-Doppler-Imaging study of II Pegasi with PEPSI, A&A, in press; arXiv:190211201S

Online images and movies

see “II Peg” at https://pepsi.aip.de

LBT press release:

http://www.lbto.org/pepsi-pol-2019.html

 

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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