The German Astronomical Society (AG), the German association of amateur astronomers (VdS) and the Society of German-Speaking Planetariums (GDP) comment on the rapid increase in the number of satellites in the night sky. Artificial satellites have significant impact on the perception of the natural starry sky and the exploration of our universe, also in radio frequencies. (AG Press Release, January 18, 2021). [more]
An international research team, including Ralph Eatough (NAOC & MPIfR) used both, the Green Bank telescope and the Effelsberg Radio Telescope to search for axion dark matter particles in the environment of two nearby neutron stars and also in the center of the Milky Way. The results, with the strongest limits to date on axion dark matter particles were published in a recent issue of Physical Review Letters (Kavli IPMU Press Release, December 21, 2020). [more]
Astronomers from France, Germany, and Italy led by Sibylle Anderl and Sébastien Maret from the Université Grenoble Alpes, including Arnaud Belloche from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, used observations performed with the NOEMA observatory of the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM) in the French alps to observe molecular radiation around the very young protostar IRAM 04191. The observations were part of the CALYPSO project (Continuum And Lines in Young ProtoStellar Objects) aiming at understanding the properties and the evolution of young protostellar objects in our galaxy. The results show that the accretion history of very young protostars can be very dynamic (IRAM Press Release, November 13, 2020). [more]
The SKA Organisation (SKAO) – which leads the delivery of the international Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project of a next generation radio telescope – has undertaken a preliminary analysis of the potential impact of current satellite mega-constellations on its telescopes. The analysis quantifies this impact and identifies possible mitigations (SKAO Press Release, October 07, 2020).
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics 2020 to Professor Reinhard Genzel of the MPI for extraterrestrial Physics in Garching. He shares half of this year's prize "for the discovery of a supermassive compact object at the centre of our galaxy" with Prof. Andrea Ghez of the University of Los Angeles. The other half goes to Prof. Roger Penrose of the University of Oxford, “for the discovery that black hole formation is a robust prediction of the general theory of relativity”. Reinhard Genzel did his doctoral thesis work at MPIfR and received his doctoral degree from Bonn University in 1978 (Announcement Nobel Committee, October 06, 2020). [more]
In October 2020, the Very Large Array (VLA) in the high desert of New Mexico turns 40. For many years, scientists from the MPIfR and other Max Planck Institutes have been making very extensive use of the VLA. The scope of their investigations has dramatically increased after the very substantial upgrade to what is now named the Karl G. Jansky Very Large Array completed in 2012. It transformed the instrument by replacing its 1970s era detectors and electronics with the 2010s state-of-art, thus making it orders of magnitude more powerful. (NRAO Press Release, October 05, 2020).
Einstein's theory of general relativity – the idea that gravity is matter warping spacetime – has withstood over 100 years of scrutiny and testing, including the newest test from the Event Horizon Telescope collaboration, published today in the latest issue of Physical Review Letters. A number of MPIfR scientists including Michael Kramer are co-authors of the paper (EHT Press release, October 01, 2020) [more]
SOFIA, the “Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy”, has arrived in Hamburg on September 30 for a routine inspection, the so-called “C Check”, which takes place in an interval of about three years. The GREAT receiver (“German REceiver for Astronomy at Terahertz Frequencies”), will be removed from the telescope after arrival in Hamburg and carried to the MPIfR in Bonn for maintenance and optimization (DSI News, 01 October 2020, in German language). [more]
At the annual meeting of the Astronomische Gesellschaft (AG), Prof. Michael Kramer from MPIfR has been elected new president of the AG. He has been vice president within the executive committee of the AG for three years and is now following Prof. Joachim Wambsganß from the Zentrum für Astronomie at Universität Heidelberg as president. [more]
Eduardo Ros from MPIfR has been awarded with the Prize for the Best Popular Science Paper of the year by the Spanish Royal Society of Physics and the BBVA Foundation. The award was granted for a joint publication with Antxon Alberdi, Iván Martí-Vidal (both MPIfR alumni) and José L. Gómez, entitled “Event Horizon Telescope: photographing the edges of the Universe”, recognizing the “clear and enthusiastic writing” to describe how “the first image of the shadow of a black hole, a fascinating result presented with graceful readability without losing the scientific rigor” (BBVA Press Release, September 21, 2020, in Spanish language). [more]
For the first time ever, astronomers have found an explanation for how planetary nebulae get their mesmerising shapes, based on the largest and most detailed set of observations so far of stellar winds around cool evolved stars that are near the end of their lifetime — a state that our own Sun will reach in 4—5 billion years A team lead by researchers from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, which includes Karl Menten and Manali Jeste from the MPIfR in Bonn found that chemically highly complex stellar winds are generally not spherical. Rather, their shape has similarities with that of planetary nebulae. This leads to the conclusion that the same process shapes both the winds of cool evolved stars and planetary nebulae (“Science” publication, KU Leuven Press Release, September 17, 2020). [more]
The CH radical has long been recognized as a reliable tracer of molecular hydrogen, the main material of interstellar clouds, which itself is difficult to observe. An MPIfR research team led by Arshia M. Jacob presents the first detection of Its rare isotopolog 13CH in absorption using the upGREAT receiver on board SOFIA. These studies provide information on the synthesis of elements within stars on a Galactic scale. The publication was presented as “Highlight of the Week” in the journal “Astronomy & Astrophysics” (A&A Highlight Paper, published on August 26, 2020). [more]
SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, a joint project of NASA/USA and DLR/Germany, has returned to science operations with a new series of flights designed to study the chemistry of galaxies, beginning on Aug. 17, 2020. It is planned to return to its regular observing schedule with about four flights each week (NASA News Release, August 31, 2020). [more]
An important breakthrough in the understanding of neutron star collisions and the expansion of the Universe has been made by an international team, led by the University of East Anglia (UEA) and including Paulo Freire from MPIfR as second author (UEA Press Release, July 08, 2020) [more]