Highlights — Some exciting recent scientific results from our group

Giant magnetic ropes in the outskirts of a spiral galaxy
First detection of regular magnetic field reversals in the halo of NGC 4631

An international consortium led by scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, investigated polarized radio emission from the galaxy NGC 4631 at the VLA radio telescope with a broad-band receiver in a number of spectral windows. They detected for the first time a regular magnetic field over scales of several thousands of light years in the halo of NGC 4631. Moreover, they discovered reversals in the large-scale magnetic field, which they call giant magnetic ropes. This discovery will strengthen the impact of large-scale dynamo theories for spiral galaxies. Further, the regular halo fields may be regarded as a link to intergalactic magnetic fields and will help to understand their origin which is a mystery so far.
Pulsar emission map thanks to Einstein
Radio emission from a neutron star’s magnetic pole revealed by general relativity

Pulsars in binary systems are affected by relativistic effects, causing the spin axes of each pulsar to change their direction with time. A research team led by Gregory Desvignes from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has used radio observations of the source PSR J1906+0746 to reconstruct the polarised emission over the pulsar’s magnetic pole and to predict the disappearance of the detectable emission by 2028. Observations of this system confirm the validity of a 50-year old model that relates the pulsar’s radiation to its geometry. The researchers are also able to precisely measure the rate of change in spin direction and find an excellent agreement with the predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity.
A peek at the birth of the universe
Study on new radio telescope in South Africa

The Square Kilometre Array (SKA) is set to become the largest radio telescope on Earth. Scientists of Bielefeld University and the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) with international partners have now examined the SKA-MPG telescope—a prototype for the part of the SKA that receives signals in the mid-frequency range. The study, published in the journal ‘Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society’, shows that the telescope, jointly developed by the MPIfR and MT-Mechatronics GmbH, is not only a prototype to test the SKA design, but can also be used on its own to provide insights into the origin of the universe.
Why lightning often strikes twice: Study reveals needle-like structures in positively charged lightning leaders
April 17, 2019

In contrast to popular belief, lightning often does strike twice, but the reason why a lightning channel is 'reused' has remained a mystery. Now, an international research team including scientists from the MPIfR has used the LOFAR radio telescope to study the development of lightning flashes in unprecedented detail. The results were published on 18 April in the science journal Nature.
Astronomers Capture First Image of a Black Hole
MPIfR and IRAM contribute to groundbreaking observations of the gargantuan black hole at the heart of distant galaxy Messier 87

The Event Horizon Telescope (EHT) — a planet-scale array of eight ground-based radio telescopes forged through international collaboration — was set up to capture the first images of a black hole. Today, in coordinated press conferences across the globe, EHT researchers including scientists from both, the Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany, and the Institut de Radioastronomie Millimétrique (IRAM) reveal that they have succeeded, unveiling the first direct visual evidence of a black hole.
Hundreds of Thousands of New Galaxies
Astronomers publish new sky map detecting a vast number of previously unknown galaxies

An international team of more than 200 astronomers from 18 countries including scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, Germany, has published the first phase of a major new radio sky survey at unprecedented sensitivity using the Low Frequency Array (LOFAR) telescope. The survey reveals hundreds of thousands of previously undetected galaxies, shedding new light on many research areas including the physics of black holes and how clusters of galaxies evolve.
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