MPIA News

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Testing the predictions of general relativity near the Milky Way’s central black hole

July 26, 2018
For the first time, astronomers have clearly detected the effects predicted by general relativity for the orbit of a star around the central supermassive black hole of our home galaxy. The measurements took advantage of the closest approach of one particular star to the black hole in May 2018. The required high precision was provided by the GRAVITY instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which exploits the wave properties of light to allow for highly accurate relative positions of point sources. [more]
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Detecting the boiling atmosphere of the hottest known exoplanet

July 02, 2018
Astronomers have found that the atmosphere of the hottest known exoplanet, the hot Jupiter-like planet KELT-9b, is "boiling off," with the escaping gas being captured by the host star. Using the CARMENES instrument at Calar Alto Observatory, Fei Yan and Thomas Henning of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg were able to detect the escaping hydrogen atmosphere of the planet. Their observations indicate a spread-out hydrogen envelope that is being pulled towards the host star.  [more]
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Astronomers Witness the Birth of a Planet

July 02, 2018
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg and the SPHERE instrument consortium at the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile have discovered and characterised an extremely young exoplanet in a state of its formation. This gas giant with the designation PDS 70 b, with a mass equivalent to several Jupiters, was detected orbiting the star PDS 70 within a gap of its protoplanetary disk. This means that PDS 70 b is still in the vicinity of its birth place and likely still accumulating material. The observations provide a unique opportunity to test models of planet formation, and to learn about the early history of planetary systems, including our own solar system. [more]

Awards for MPIA researchers: Otto Hahn Medal for Paul Mollière. EPoS-Poster Award for Asmita Bhandare

June 27, 2018
Paul Mollière has been awarded the renowned Otto Hahn Medal by the Max Planck Society (MPG). The award at the annual meeting of the MPG in Heidelberg honored his comprehensive investigation of the structure of atmospheres of extrasolar planets and the analysis of their spectra. Asmita Bhandare received another award for her poster on star formation at the EPoS conference in Ringberg. [more]
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MPIA scientist awarded renowned Cozzarelli Prize

May 03, 2018
During the weekend, the National Academy of Sciences of the USA presented this year's Cozzarelli Prize in a festive ceremony. Together with their Canadian colleagues Ben Pearce and Ralph Pudritz, Dimitry Semenov and Thomas Henning from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) were awarded for one of their outstanding publications to explore the origins of life, which appeared in the PNAS Journal in 2017. [more]
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Gaia data release provides most complete census of stars yet, draws dust map of Milky Way

April 25, 2018
The new data release of ESA’s Gaia satellite, published today, not only includes data that allows astronomers to compute accurate distances for 1.33 billion stars. Researchers based at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have also used Gaia’s measurements to derive the physical properties of almost 80 million stars, making this the largest stellar census yet. At the same time, the analysis provides the most detailed three-dimensional map of dust in our home galaxy yet, which promises to put the analysis of celestial objects on a more solid footing than before. [more]
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Astronomers map the "chemical DNA" of over 340,000 stars to search for their long-lost siblings

April 18, 2018
The Galactic Archaeology with HERMES (GALAH) consortium today announces its second data release (DR2); the detailed chemical compositions and radial velocities (the motion of the stars relative to Earth) of 340,000 bright stars across the sky. MPIA has played a key role in the challenging data analysis of this unprecedented sample, in collaboration with several Australian universities and the Australian Astronomical Observatory. GALAH DR2 is spearheaded by MPIA PhD student Sven Buder. [more]
 
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