Teaser 1512382624

The most distant black hole in the cosmos: quasar at a distance of 13 billion light-years discovered

December 06, 2017
Astronomers have discovered the most distant quasar known, which is so far from us that its light has taken more than 13 billion years to reach us. We see this quasar as it was a mere 690 million years after the Big Bang, and its light carries valuable information about the early history of the universe, in particular the reionization phase. At the center of the quasar is a massive black hole with a mass of almost 1 billion solar masses. In addition, the quasar's host galaxy has been found to contain a large amount of gas and dust, challenging models of galactic evolution. The results have now been published in Nature and in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. [more]
Teaser 1512382721

Traces of life on nearest exoplanets may be hidden in equatorial trap, study finds

November 29, 2017
Simulations show that the search for life on other planets may well be more difficult than previously assumed: On planets like Proxima b or TRAPPIST-1d, unusual flow pattern could hide atmospheric ozone from telescopic observations. Ozone, which is a variety of oxygen, is seen as one of the possible traces allowing for the detection of life on another planet from afar.  The simulations, led by Ludmila Carone of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, have consequences for formulating the optimal strategy for searching for (oxygen-producing) life such as bacteria or plants on exoplanets. [more]
Standard 1509048495

Hunting for Exoplanets - First scientific results from the CARMENES survey

October 26, 2017
CARMENES is a new German-Spanish high-resolution spectrograph operating in both the visible and the infrared wavelength regimes and mounted on the Calar Alto Observatory 3.5m telescope. The main goal of the instrument is it to find Earth-like planets around nearby M-dwarf stars using high-precision stellar radial velocity measurements to reveal the reflex motion of these stars caused by their orbiting planets. [more]
Teaser 1507206533

Astronomers discover unusual spindle-like galaxies  

October 12, 2017
Galaxies are majestic, rotating wheels of stars? Not in the case of the spindle-like galaxies studied by Athanasia Tsatsi (Max Planck Institute for Astronomy) and her colleagues. Using the CALIFA survey, the astronomers found that these slender galaxies, which rotate along their longest axis, are much more common than previously thought. The new data allowed the astronomers to create a model for how these unusual galaxies probably formed, namely out of a special kind of merger of two spiral galaxies. The results have been published in the journal Astronomy & Astrophysics. [more]
Teaser 1506496706

Bringing the building blocks of life down to Earth, from space

October 02, 2017
Astronomers from McMaster University and the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy have completed calculations that lead to a consistent scenario for the emergence of life on Earth, based on astronomical, geological, chemical and biological models. In this scenario, life forms a mere few hundred million years after Earth’s surface was cool enough for liquid water; the essential building blocks for life were formed in space during the formation of the solar system, and delivered to warm little ponds on Earth by meteorites. The new results have been published in the Proceedings of the US National Academy of Sciences. [more]
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 1501752692

Zemax Training Course at MPIA

August 03, 2017
01. – 04. August [more]
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