MPIA Highlights

Bringing you what's happening at MPIA - from personal news to instrumentation

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Teaser 1493283272

Making sense of your data: New Bayesian inference book by MPIA staff member

April 27, 2017
Science is fundamentally about learning from data, and doing so in the presence of uncertainty. In this new book, Coryn Bailer-Jones, a staff astronomer at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), provides an introduction to the major concepts of probability and statistics and to the computational tools needed to analyse and interpret data. [more]
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Pan-STARRS releases catalogue of 3 billion astronomical sources

December 19, 2016
The Pan-STARRS project, including astronomers at the Max Planck Institutes for Astronomy in Heidelberg and for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching, is publicly releasing the world’s largest digital sky survey today. The catalogue is based on 4 years of observations of 3/4 of the night sky and provides extensive information on more than 3 billion stars, galaxies and other sources. [more]
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Euclid-Instrument NISP successfully passed Critical Design Review

December 14, 2016
The NISP instrument, currently under development with participation of MPIA for ESA's Euclid cosmology mission, has successfully passed its so-called Critical Design Review by an ESA review board. This affirms that the overall design is deemed sufficiently mature for launch and that now all flight hardware has green light to be built for a delivery of the instrument to ESA in about two years. [more]
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Patzer Prize 2016

November 30, 2016
Last Friday, on November 25, 2016, the solemn ceremony of the Ernst-Patzer Prize for the promotion of young scientists was held in the auditorium of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA). This year, the awards were given to Adriana Pohl, Sara Rezaeikhoshbakhat and Richard Teague. [more]
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Double award from the MPG: Prize for the MPIA Mechanical Workshop / Trainee Prize for Lukas Reichert

October 20, 2016
After 2014, the mechanical engineering workshop of MPIA was once again awarded this year by the Max Planck Society (MPG) with the prize for special commitments to vocational training. Furthermore, Lukas Reichert has received the trainee's award for his outstanding achievements in vocational training. [more]
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Eva Schinnerer awarded with 2.5 Mio Euro ERC Advanced Grant

October 18, 2016
Eva Schinnerer, scientist in the Galaxies and Cosmology Department of MPIA, has been awarded with a 2.495 Mio EURO ERC Advanced Grant for her project "The physics of star formation and its regulation". Observations with the Atacama Large Millimeter Array (ALMA) will play an important role in the project. [more]
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Dieter Rampacher Prize for Michael Maseda

September 28, 2016
The Max Planck Society (MPG) has awarded Michael Maseda the Dieter-Rampacher-Prize. Yearly, the MPG honors with this prize the youngest successful PhD-Student of the former year within the Max-Planck-Society (in this case of 2015). [more]
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Reimar-Lüst-Fellowship for Adriana Pohl

September 27, 2016
Adriana Pohl has been awarded with the Reimar-Lüst-Fellowship by the Max-Planck-Society (MPG). She receives a two year funding for her research project. [more]
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Otto Hahn Medal for Eduardo Banados

September 16, 2016
Dr. Eduardo Enrique Bañados Torres has been awarded with the Otto Hahn Medal from the Max Planck Society (MPG). With the ceremony during the annual meeting of the MPG, the society recognized his work for the understanding of quasars in the early universe. [more]
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Ludwig Biermann-Prize of the German Astronomical Society (AG) for Karin Lind

June 30, 2016
This  year,  the  Ludwig  Biermann  Prize  of  the  German  Astronomical  Society  (AG)  will  be awarded to Dr. Karin Lind from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg. [more]

Successful first galactic center observation with new instrument GRAVITY targets stars around black hole

June 23, 2016
Another first for the new instrument GRAVITY: Observations of the direct neighborhood of our galaxy's central black hole in unprecedented detail show GRAVITY living up to its promises. The instrument made these observations by combining light from all four 8 meter telescopes that comprise ESO's Very Large Telescope into a virtual telescope with the same eye for detail as a 130 m telescope. [more]
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Arjen van der Wel awarded with 1.9 Mio Euro ERC Consolidator Grant

April 06, 2016
Arjen van der Wel, scientist in the Galaxies and Cosmology – Department of MPIA, has been awarded with a 1.9 Mio Euro ERC Consolidator Grant. The ERC project is built around the LEGA-C survey - a huge extragalactic observing program at ESO´s Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile to study galaxy evolution. The grant will allow the implementation of a working group consisting of the group leader, two postdocs and two PhD students.                                                                              [more]
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First wavefront sensor for GRAVITY installed at Paranal Observatory

March 29, 2016
The first out of four wavefront sensors for the GRAVITY instrument has been successfully installed at the ESO Paranal Observatory in Chile. GRAVITY is a 2nd generation near-infrared instrument for the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) that will combine the light of the four 8.2m-telescopes to achieve a much higher resolution than it would be possible with a single telescope. Alternatively, GRAVITY can also combine the light of the four smaller 1.8m auxiliary telescopes. [more]
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Thomas Henning appointed as Adjunct Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research

February 16, 2016
Thomas Henning, Managing Director of the Max Planck Institute of Astronomy (MPIA) and Head of its Planet and Star Formation Department has been appointed Adjunct Professor at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in India. [more]

Discovery of the First Quasar Quartet Ranked Among the Top 5 Space Stories of 2015

February 12, 2016
Published in May 2015, the discovery of the first Quasar Quartet by a team of astronomers led by Joe Hennawi from MPIA was ranked number four in Astronomy Magazine’s top 10 Space Stories of 2015. [more]
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First Light for GRAVITY!

January 13, 2016
A new astronomical high-tech instrument called GRAVITY has been successfully tested at Paranal Observatory of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile. It combines the light from several telescopes in order to visualize the finest details of celestial objects. Among the most important tasks of the instrument are observations of the immediate environment of the supermassive black hole at the center of our Milky Way, of exoplanet motions, or of structures within the disks of emerging new solar systems. The instrument working in infrared light was built with participation of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg. [more]
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First Successful Tests of New Planet Hunter "CARMENES"

December 17, 2015
CARMENES, an outstanding novel astronomical instrument, which has been designed to look for Earth-like planets, has successfully passed first “on-sky” tests at the telescope. Scientists and engineers of the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy have participated in the design and construction of the new “planet hunter”. [more]
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Prof. Dr. Oliver Trapp appointed as MPG-Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA)

December 16, 2015
On December 1, 2015, Prof. Dr. Oliver Trapp from the Institute of Organic Chemistry of the University of Heidelberg was appointed as MPG-Fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA). With its fellowship program, the Max Planck Society (MPG) promotes the collaboration with excellent scientists from outside the Max Planck Institutes. [more]
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Patzer Prize award 2015

December 03, 2015
Last Friday, on November 27, 2015, the solemn ceremony of the Ernst-Patzer Prize for the promotion of young scientists was held in the auditorium of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA). This year, the awards were given to Simon Bihr, Melissa Ness und Jonathan Stern. [more]
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Tandem Agreement with Valparaiso University Signed

October 20, 2015
Recently, an agreement was signed between the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) and the Department of Physics and Astronomy (IFA) of the University of Valparaiso (UV), Chile, to set up the first Tandem-Group in the field of Astronomy in Chile. [more]
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Kick-off for the E-ELT-Camera MICADO: a new era of precision astronomy

October 07, 2015
Start of the Preliminary Design Phase for the MICADO camera for the E-ELT [more]
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The METIS Instrument for the E-ELT: Agreement for development signed

September 28, 2015
METIS, an infrared camera and spectrograph, will be one of the First-Light-Instruments for the future European Extremely Large Telescope (E-ELT) – the largest telescope ever built. On September 28, 2015, the agreement to develop and build METIS has been signed in Leiden between the European Southern Observatory (ESO) and the METIS consortium, in which the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) is the second largest partner. [more]

Science goes public with a colourful look at the stars: Film project by Heidelberg astronomers released

September 28, 2015
"See the universe as astronomers do" - a project by astronomers and professional filmmakers, who had set out earlier this year to bring the most exciting recent discoveries about stars directly to the public, has now released the resulting film [more]

Jouni Kainulainen awarded with 1.3 Mio Euro by ERC Starting Grant

September 11, 2015
Jouni Kainulainen, scientist in the MPIA Department “Planet and Star Formation”, has been awarded with 1.3 Mio EURO by an ERC Starting Grant scheme. The Grant will allow the implementation of a working group during the next five years, consisting of the group leader, two postdocs and one PhD student. The main goal of the project is to explore how the fundamental physical processes (gravity, turbulence and magnetic fields) regulate the formation of new stars in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. [more]
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First Flight for LINC-NIRVANA – Dismantling and Fit Checks

August 11, 2015
With a number of essential preparatory tests for the handling and shipping of LINC-NIRVANA the MPIA has seen exciting four days last week. After the dismantling and a number of essential preparatory tests for the handling and shipping a real highlight was the first "flight" of the instrument structure on a huge crane at an airy height. [more]
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A sharp look on NGC 6384 using ARGOS and LUCI at the LBT

May 19, 2015
During further test observations for implementing the Laser Guide Star System ARGOS at the Large Binocular Telescope, the instrument-team made an impressive image of the galaxy NGC 6384 at a distance of 80 million light years. [more]
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LINC-NIRVANA Passes Important Milestone on its Way to LBT

May 18, 2015
Upon successful completion of its "Preliminary Acceptance Europe" (PAE), LINC-NIRVANA has crossed its final hurdle before delivery to the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona. [more]

The Large Binocular Telescope observes volcano on Jupiter's moon Io

April 30, 2015
With the first detailed observations through imaging interferometry of a lava lake on a moon of Jupiter, the Large Binocular Telescope places itself as the forerunner of the next generation of Extremely Large Telescopes. [more]

Klaus Tschira 1940-2015

March 31, 2015
Long-time MPIA trustee and benefactor passes away in Heidelberg [more]

Heidelberg Origins of Life Initiative (HIFOL) established – New Colloquium Series starts

March 20, 2015
The Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), together with the Max-Planck-Institute for Nuclear Physics (MPIK), the Heidelberg Institute for Theoretical Studies (HITS) and the University of Heidelberg, has just established HIFOL - the new Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life. HIFOL brings together top researchers from astrophysics, geosciences, chemistry, and life sciences to foster, strengthen and bundle scientific efforts to unravel one of the most challenging mysteries in the universe: what are the conditions for the origin of life? [more]

Henrik Beuther awarded with 1.6 Mio Euro by ERC Research Grant

March 04, 2015
Henrik Beuther, scientist in the Planet and Star Formation – Department of MPIA, has been awarded with 1.6 Mio EURO by an ERC Research Grant. The ERC project is build around two large observing programs at two of the most advanced interferometers, and it is designed to study the full cycle of cloud formation, star formation and finally feedback to the interstellar medium. The Grant will allow the implementation of a working group consisting of three postdocs and one PhD student during the next five years. [more]

Image of cosmic web named one of top 10 physics breakthroughs of 2014

December 19, 2014
In January, researchers from the University of California at Santa Cruz and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy released the first image of the filamentary distribution of matter in intergalactic space – the cosmic web. Now, their discovery has been named as one of the top 10 physics breakthroughs of 2014 by Physics World, the magazine published by the Institute of Physics (IOP). The top-10 breakthroughs were chosen by a panel of six Physics World editors and reporters. Criteria included fundamental importance of research, significant advance in knowledge, a strong connection between theory and experiment, and general interest to all physicists. [more]

Sharp images at the Large Binocular Telescope – "First Light" for ARGOS

December 18, 2014
With great success, the ARGOS Laser Guide Star Facility at the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona was recently tested. This system allows high-resolution observations at any point of the sky with artificially generated stars in the field of view of the telescope. With such "laser stars" the blurring of images caused by air turbulence is largely corrected. [more]

"First Light" for PANIC at Calar Alto Observatory

December 05, 2014
After about 8 years of development, the near-infrared wide-field camera PANIC entered operations during the full moon night November 6/7 2014 at the Calar Alto 2.2m telescope. This so-called "First Light" is without question the most important milestone for any astronomical telescope or instrument. [more]

Patzer Prize award 2014

December 04, 2014
On November 28, the solemn ceremony of the Ernst-Patzer Prize for the promotion of young scientists was held in the auditorium of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA). The awards were given this year to Benjamin Hendricks, Nikolay Kacharov, Paolo Bianchini, and Miguel Querejeta. [more]

Baby photos of a scaled-up Solar System

November 10, 2014
A group of scientists led by Kate Su of the University of Arizona has reconstructed „baby photos“ of the planetary system around the young star HD 95086. The system looks very similar to what we expect our own Solar System to have looked like between 10 and 90 million years after its birth – only larger. In particular, the researchers found that HD 95086 has two dust belts, analogous to the asteroid and Kuiper belts in our Solar system, surrounded by a large dust halo that is only found in young planetary systems. [more]

Revealing the Secrets of Galaxies – Second CALIFA Data Release

October 01, 2014
Today, the second large data release of the CALIFA-Survey has been published to the astronomical community and the public. It contains an unprecedented amount of data on 200 galaxies in the local universe allowing astronomers to study in detail numerous galaxy properties regarding their composition, kinematics, formation history and evolution. [more]

Innovative Training Schools: Mechanical Workshop and Personnel Department of MPIA Awarded by MPG

August 01, 2014
Each year, the Max Planck Society awards three institutional training centers for their special commitment to vocational training. Among the prize winners in 2014 is the MPIA with its Mechanical Workshop and the Personnel Department. [more]

Anica Till Received the Trainee Award 2014 of the Max Planck Society

July 29, 2014
For the eighth time, the Max Planck Society has awarded the Trainee Prize for outstanding achievements in vocational training. The winner 2014 is Anica Till from MPIA's administration department. [more]

Fizeau Investigator Prize for Christoph Leinert

July 23, 2014
Since 2010, Commission 54 (Optical and Infrared Interferometry) of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), the Observatoire de la Cote 'Azur (OCA), and the Mt. Wilson Institute (MWI) are awarding the Fizeau Prize for "outstanding achievement in fundamentals and implementation of optical interferometry". The Fizeau Investigator Prize 2014 is awarded to Christoph Leinert from the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) "for his considerable scientific achievements throughout his career, and specifically for his role as Principal Investigator for the MIDI instrument on the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI)." [more]

Looking in all the Right Places – The SLOAN DIGITAL SKY SURVEY Extends its Reach

July 17, 2014
Building on the past successes, the Sloan Digital Sky Survey (SDSS) collaboration has launched a major new program that will expand the census of the Universe into new areas. The new survey is a collaboration of more than 200 astronomers at more than 40 institutions on four continents, and incorporates telescopes in both the Northern and Southern Hemispheres to explore the entire sky for the first time. [more]

Christian-Doppler-Prize for Lisa Kaltenegger

June 23, 2014
On 13. June 2014 Lisa Kaltenegger from the Max-Planck-Institut for Astronomy received the Christian-Doppler-Prize oft he Salzburg government, the most important distinction for young scientists' achievements in the Natural Sciences. The prize of 12000 EURO was awarded fort her work on the characterisation of extrasolar planets with a focuss on other habitable words. [more]

The Dusty Heart of an Active Galaxy

March 26, 2014
An international research team with participation of MPIA obtained the most detailed view so far of the warm dust in the close environment of a supermassive black hole in the center of an active galaxy. The observations of the Circinus galaxy at a distance of 13 million light years show, for the first time, that the dust directly illuminated by the central engine of the active galaxy is located in two distinct components. [more]

On the Hunt for Exoplanets – SPHERE Arrives at Paranal

March 13, 2014
The search for planets outside our solar system and the related questions regarding their formation and their potentially life-friendly properties are among the most exciting topics in modern astrophysics. However, almost all of the more than 1000 exoplanets discovered since 1995 were found using indirect methods. This will soon change with SPHERE, a powerful instrument that has just arrived at ESO's Paranal Observatory in the Chilean Andes to collect direct images of Exoplanets. [more]

Gaia Comes into Focus

February 06, 2014
ESA has announced that the telescopes of the survey satellite Gaia are now being brought into focus. Gaia was launched on December 2013 and is now orbiting around the Lagrange point L2, 1.5 million kilometres from Earth. [more]
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