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Teaser 1438780585

Dark clouds, young stars, and a dash of Hollywood

October 30, 2012
New results from space telescope's explorations of stellar birthplaces [more]
Teaser 1440582955

50 years of Brown Dwarfs

October 17, 2012
The community of astronomers is celebrating an amazing discovery with an international conference at Ringberg Castle nearby the Tegernsee in Germany from October 21.-24. The conference is organized by the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg. [more]
Teaser 1440592774

Astronomers pinpoint elusive galaxy after decade-long hunt – and find it's not alone

June 13, 2012
An international team of astronomers led by Fabian Walter of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has managed for the first time to determine the distance of the galaxy HDF850.1, well-known among astronomers as being one of the most productive star-forming galaxies in the observable universe. The galaxy is at a distance of 12.5 billion light years. Hence, we see it as it was 12.5 billion years ago, when the universe was less than 10% of its current age. Even more of a surprise, HDF850.1 turns out to be part of a group of around a dozen protogalaxies that formed within the first billion years of cosmic history – only one of two such primordial clusters known to date. The work is being published in the journal Nature. [more]
Teaser 1441194629

First instrument for new space telescope JWST completed and handed over to NASA

May 09, 2012
After more than ten years of work by more than 200 scientists and engineers, the MIRI instrument, which will fly on the James Webb Space Telescope (successor to the Hubble Space Telescope) is ready to be shipped to NASA. MIRI, a pioneering camera and spectrograph, is so sensitive it could see a candle on one of Jupiter's moons. Key components of MIRI have been designed and built at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg. [more]
Teaser 1441185611

Astronomers detect vast amounts of gas and dust around black hole in early universe

March 28, 2012
Press release from the Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy (MPIA), the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS) and the Astronomische Gesellschaft (AG) on the occasion of the National Astronomy Meeting (NAM 2012) in Manchester. [more]
Teaser 1441185612

A planetary system from the early Universe

March 27, 2012
A group of European astronomers has discovered an ancient planetary system that is likely to be a survivor from one of the earliest cosmic eras, 13 billion years ago. The system consists of the star HIP 11952 and two planets, which have orbital periods of 290 and 7 days, respectively. Whereas planets usually form within clouds that include heavier chemical elements, the star HIP 11952 contains very little other than hydrogen and helium. The system promises to shed light on planet formation in the early universe – under conditions quite different from those of later planetary systems, such as our own. [more]
Teaser 1441186893

Recycling galaxies caught in the act

March 14, 2012
When astronomers add up all the gas and dust contained in ordinary galaxies (like our own Milky Way), they find a discrepancy: there is not nearly enough matter for stars to form at the observed rates for long. As a (partial) solution, a matter cycle on gigantic scales has been proposed. In our local galactic neighbourhood, traces of this mechanism had already been found. Now, a study led by Kate Rubin of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has found the first direct evidence of such gas flowing back into distant galaxies that are actively forming new stars, validating a key part of "galactic recycling". [more]
Teaser 1443090901

First things first – massive stars in W3Main are not born coeval

February 16, 2012
Using the new LUCI-1 instrument at the worlds largest telescope, the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in Arizona, astronomers from German institutes detected for the first time that the massive stars in the Galactic star forming region W3Main are not born simultaneously. This discovery has important consequences for our general understanding of the star formation process and the simple picture where stars are born in just a single event is under debate. Over the recent years evidence has been presented that it is more complex in most regions. From this result we now know that stars can form over a time span of several million years [more]
Teaser 1441194399

Watching a tiny galaxy grow

February 09, 2012
For the first time, astronomers have caught a so-called dwarf galaxy in the process of swallowing another, even smaller galaxy. Whether such mergers are important for the evolution of the tiniest galaxies has been the subject of debate among theoreticians. Now, thanks to research by two independent groups including MPIA researchers David Martínez-Delgado and Michelle Collins, there is empirical evidence that such mergers occur. The analyses draw on deep images from modestly sized telescopes, in an example for successful collaboration between amateur and professional astronomers. [more]
Teaser 1441959671

Inaugurating a galaxy-shaped building

December 16, 2011
The spectacular galaxy-shaped building of the Haus der Astronomie, Heidelberg's new Center for Astronomy Education and Outreach has been inaugurated. [more]
Teaser 1446649942

Adaptive optics at Europe's flagship telescope looks back on a decade of successful observations

November 25, 2011
Ten years ago today, NACO became operational: the first adaptive optics system of ESO's Very Large Telescope (VLT). Adaptive Optics allows astronomers to remove the stars' twinkling – disturbances due to the Earth's atmosphere –, allowing for extremely sharp images of celestial objects. NACO looks back on a decade of scientific results, including the first direct image of an exoplanet and insight into the surroundings of our home galaxy's central black hole. [more]
Teaser 1441959825

Magnetic fields set the stage for the birth of new stars

November 16, 2011
Astronomers at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have, for the first time, measured the alignment of magnetic fields in gigantic clouds of gas and dust in a distant galaxy. Their results suggest that such magnetic fields play a key role in channeling matter to form denser clouds, and thus in setting the stage for the birth of new stars. The work will be published in the November 24 edition of the journal Nature (online version: November 16). [more]
Teaser 1441978543

Unusually productive dwarf galaxies pose a riddle,
but could solve another

November 10, 2011
Using the Hubble Space Telescope, a team of astronomers led by Arjen van der Wel of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg has looked back into the early universe to discover a population of small, young galaxies that produce new stars at an extraordinary rate. For current models of galaxy formation, this high star production rate is difficult to explain. It could, however, serve to solve another dwarf galaxy riddle: The unusual distribution of Dark Matter within these cosmic objects. The results will be published in the November 10 edition of the Astrophysical Journal. [more]
Teaser 1441978541

No time for change: Cosmic weight watching reveals black hole-galaxy history

September 30, 2011
Using state-of-the-art technology and sophisticated data analysis tools, a team of astronomers from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has developed a new and powerful technique to directly determine the mass of an active galaxy at a distance of nearly 9 billion light-years from Earth. This pioneering method promises a new approach for studying the co-evolution of galaxies and their central black holes. First results indicate that for galaxies, the best part of cosmic history was not a time of sweeping changes. [more]
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