Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) to Participate in the »Euroscience Open Forum 2006«
July 03, 2006
ESOF was first staged by Euroscience, an international scientific organization. ESOF 2006 was initiated by the Robert-Bosch-Stiftung and the Stifterverband für die Deutsche Wissenschaft and is being sponsored by Wissenschaft im Dialog, an organization that was established by the most important German organizations promoting research.
Astronomy is being represented by several institutions at the ESOF 2006. The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg is participating with two contributions.
On July 17 at 5:15 pm, a seminar entitled »Towards other Worlds – Extrasolar Planets« will take place at the Forum of the Deutsche Museum. In several presentations, the current status of research concerning planets outside our solar system will be explained and a future outlook will be given. One major goal is for example to find proof of earthlike planets and the discovery of biomarkers in their atmospheres. One focus of these contributions will also be on the significant challenges in observation technology. Success is expected from the utilization of new space observatories and the most modern earthbound large telescopes, equipped with adaptive optics and instruments using interferometry. Professor Thomas Henning, the director of the department Planet and Star Formation at MPIA, is organizing the event. Professor Reinhard Genzel, director of MPE in Garching, is assisting him. Participants include Roberto Gilmozzi (ESO), Michael Perryman (ESA-ESTEC), and Andreas Quirrenbach (Landessternwarte Heidelberg).
The MPIA conducts international top research in the field of astronomic observation and theory. The scientific fields of work at the institute include the above-mentioned formation of stars and planets as well as research of distant galaxies and finding the answers to cosmologic questions in the department headed by Professor Hans-Walter Rix, currently the Managing Director of the institute. Observations made at modern observatories are essential to both fields of research. Scientists at the MPIA not only take advantage of the possibilities available. Moreover, since it was founded, the MPIA has been active in the development and the construction of telescopes and high-tech instruments for astronomic observations from Earth and from space, acquiring international reputation in this field
One of the most spectacular current projects is the construction of the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT), which will be the largest and most advanced single telescope in the world. The Max Planck Institute for Astronomy is coordinating the efforts of five German institutes holding a total share of 25 percent in the LBT project – in addition to the MPIA these include the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics in Garching and for Radio Astronomy in Bonn, as well as the Institute for Astro-Physics in Potsdam and the LSW in Heidelberg. The complete project is a German-Italian-American collaboration.
On the ground floor of the Forum in the Deutsche Museum, the MPIA will present a large-scale model of the LBT at booth 1 of the ESOF 2006 in collaboration with Baden-Württemberg International, the agency of the state of Baden-Württemberg for promoting industry.
With the LBT, which is located on top of Mount Graham in Arizona at an altitude of 3190 meters, it will be possible to peer deeper and more sharply into space than ever before. The absolutely novel type of telescope features two huge collector mirrors, each measuring 8.4 meters in diameter, on a single mount that can simultaneously be focused on stellar constellations similar to a pair of binoculars. By combining the light paths of both individual mirrors, the LBT collects as much light as a telescope with a mirror diameter of nearly 12 meters. What is more significant, however, is the fact that the LBT is able to provide a resolution equivalent to that of a telescope that is almost 23 meters in diameter, thanks to the latest adaptive optics available which combine the images of the two primary mirrors in an interferometric procedure.
More information on the MPIA can be found on the website of the institute at www.mpia.de. The ESOF 2006 website is www.esof2006.org. (KJ)