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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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The secret life of the Orion Nebula: Dancing filaments and a possible new way to form large star clusters

May 11, 2016
Whole clusters of stars, including some of the most massive specimens, can form in comparatively short time. Based on an examination of a filament of gas and dust that includes the well-known Orion nebula, Amelia Stutz and Andrew Gould of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy propose a new model for this quick mode of star formation. They provide evidence that the filament in question is a flexible structure, held together by gravity and stabilized by magnetic fields, and undulating back and forth. This and the locations and properties of nearby star clusters suggest instabilities similar to those known in plasma physics could be responsible for the quick formation of star clusters. [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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A nursery for Earths or Super-Earths: Most detailed image yet of inner regions of protoplanetary disk

March 31, 2016
For the first time, observations of a protoplanetary disk around a distant star have shown structures as small (astronomically speaking) as the inner Solar system. The observations show an infant planetary system around the star TW Hydrae: a protoplanetary disk with ring-like structures, separated by gaps that could indicate the presence of planets. The images, taken with the ALMA observatory, show details in the inner part of the protoplanetary disk, including a gap at the same distance from the star as Earth is from the Sun. This gap could indicate the presence of a planet on an Earth-like orbit around TW Hydrae. [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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Sharp pictures of planetary embryo show ultra-quick mode of planet formation

March 17, 2016
Observations using the VLA radio telescope array in New Mexico show the innermost portion of a planetary birthplace around the young star HL Tauri in unprecedented detail. Clearly visible is a lump of dust with 3 to 8 times the mass of the Earth, which represents the ideal conditions for the formation of a planet: a planetary nursery with sufficient building material for a planet somewhere between the mass of our own Earth and that of Neptune. The presence of a lump points towards a solution for a fundamental problem of planet formation: how planets can form on the limited time scale available for such processes. [more]
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