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Teaser 1503584939

Heavy stellar traffic, deflected comets, and a closer look at the triggers of cosmic disaster

August 31, 2017
As stars pass close by our solar system, they can nudge comets from the distant Oort cloud into the inner regions around the Sun. Thus, stellar encounters are an important factor in determining the risk of large cosmic impacts on Earth. Now, Coryn Bailer-Jones from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has used data from the ESA satellite Gaia to give the first systematic estimate of the rate of such close stellar encounters. Every million years, up to two dozen stars pass within a few light-years of the Sun, making for a near-constant state of perturbation. The results have been published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. [more]
Teaser 1503585047

Odd planetary system around fast-spinning star doesn't quite fit existing models of planet formation

July 06, 2017
Astronomers have discovered a rare, warm, massive Jupiter-like planet orbiting a star that is rotating extremely quickly. The discovery raises puzzling questions about planet formation – neither the planet's comparatively small mass nor its large distance from its host star are expected according to current models. The observations that led to the discovery were made using the SPHERE instrument at ESO's very large telescope. The article describing the results has been accepted for publication in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. [more]
Original 1508158679

Research highlights from our yearbook

June 22, 2017
The yearbook of the Max Planck Society illustrates the research carried out at our institutes. We selected a few reports from our 2017 yearbook to illustrate the variety and diversity of topics and projects. [more]
Teaser 1495531188

Newly discovered fast-growing galaxies could solve cosmic riddle – and show ancient cosmic merger

May 24, 2017
Astronomers have discovered a new kind of galaxy in the early universe, less than a billion years after the Big Bang. These galaxies are forming stars more than a hundred times faster than our own Milky Way. The discovery could explain an earlier finding: a population of suprisingly massive galaxies at a time 1.5 billion years after the Big Bang, which would require such hyper-productive precursors to grow their hundreds of billions of stars. The observations also show what appears to be the earliest image of galaxies merging. The results, by a group of astronomers led by Roberto Decarli of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, have been published in the 25 May issue of the journal Nature. [more]
Teaser 1494935779

First radio detection of lonely planet disk shows similarities between stars and planet-like objects

May 18, 2017
First radio observations of the lonely, planet-like object OTS44 reveal a dusty protoplanetary disk that is very similar to disks around young stars. This is unexpected, given that models of star and planet formation predict that formation from a collapsing cloud, forming a central object with surrounding disk, should not be possible for such low-mass objects. Apparently, stars and planet-like objects are more similar than previously thought. The finding, by an international team led by Amelia Bayo and including several astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, has been published in Astrophysical Journal Letters. [more]
 
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