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Lise Meitner Research Group for Maria Bergemann

25. Juni 2019

Maria Bergemann, scientist in the “Galaxies and Cosmology” department headed by MPIA director Hans-Walter Rix, is to receive support for a research group funded under the new Lise Meitner-Programme of the Max Planck Society (MPG). The group will work in the field of precise astrophysical spectroscopy, stellar populations and cosmic nucleogenesis.

Almost all the heavy elements that we know were formed over billions of years by processes in stars of various types and accumulated over several generations of stars in the Universe and thus also in our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Although the basic principle of this matter cycle has been recognized and understood, many details regarding the physical-chemical properties of the stars and cosmic nucleosynthesis, i.e. the origin of the elements, are still puzzling.

To make significant progress, the research activities of the group focus on a variable mix of observations and theoretical investigations, ranging from numerical modelling (computer simulations) and the physics of stellar atmospheres to quantitative spectroscopy of stars (the decomposition of light into its components) to observations of the chemical structure of the Milky Way and star-forming galaxies.

"Our main goal is to develop so-called non-equilibrium radiation models, which will be used to enable an accurate physical characterization of stars and stellar populations," says Maria Bergemann. "Therefore it is necessary, for example, to determine the chemical composition, atmospheric structure, mass or age of different stellar families”.

The new models will be combined with observations using large astronomical observatories such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT) of the European Southern Observatory ESO, the American Keck Observatory and 4MOST, the upcoming special telescope for spectroscopy. In the 4MOST project, Maria Bergemann is leading a high-resolution survey that will examine stars in the galactic disk and the central bulge of the Milky Way. The goal is to understand the structure and evolution of the Milky Way galaxy and the history of cosmic nucleosynthesis with respect to the Periodic Table of elements.

Launched in 2018, the new Lise Meitner Excellence Programme of the Max Planck Society aims to establish up to ten research groups per year in order to attract young, but already internationally recognized and highly qualified female scientists to MPG and to provide them with long-term support and, furthermore, attractive career paths.

The necessary selection process is multi-stage and involves the Max Planck Institutes interested in setting up such a group. Successful candidates then receive their own resources for an initial period of five years. In addition, the group leader is offered the opportunity to participate in a tenure-track process, which, if approved by the responsible commission, will result in a W2 permanent position with resources for a working group. MPG explicitly points out that female scientists who are successful in the Lise-Meitner Programme will later have a higher chance of being considered as candidates for future director positions at Max Planck Institutes.

Maria Bergemann's new group is expected to consist of three postdoctoral researchers, three doctoral students and several Master's and Bachelor's students

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