The approximately 30 students at MPIA enjoy the benefits of getting to choose from a wide range of research topics, spanning the entire range from extrasolar planets, planet and star formation, to dark matter, dark energy, galaxies and cosmology.
In addition to attending regular lectures at the University of Heidelberg, graduate students benefit greatly from MPIA's extensive visitor program. During your stay in Heidelberg, you will have the opportunity to meet a great number of key players in astronomy - from senior scientists to some of the most promising young researchers. Many visitors give general or specialized colloquia and seminars, which allow you to learn about the latest research results in a range of astronomical disciplines.
Astronomers at the MPIA use a wide variety of space and ground-based telescopes including the largest optical/infrared telescopes with mirror diameters of 8 to 10-m. These telescopes are equipped with highly sensitive detectors for the optical and infrared wavelength regimes. Powerful computers and specialized software packages are used to analyze the resulting images and spectra. These data are compared to theoretical predictions obtained through sophisticated computer simulations.
Internationally, MPIA plays a leading role in the development of the very latest astronomical instruments for various large ground-based telescopes such as the Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Chile and the Large Binocular Telescope (LBT) in the USA. MPIA also has a prominent role in developing instrumentation for various international infrared satellite missions.
MPIA is a partner in Calar Alto Observatory in Spain, operates the 2.2-m telescope at ESO's La Silla Observatory in Chile, is one of the partners in the LBT observatory in Arizona, and enjoys preferred access to other instruments such as the commissioned adaptive optics camera CONICA at ESO's VLT. Students working in observational astronomy or instrument development typically travel to one or several of these observatories during their thesis studies and to carry out own research programs.
Finishing graduate students trained at MPIA have excellent prospects for continuing their research as postdocs anywhere in the world. Astronomers wanting to change fields after having obtained their degree have very good qualifications for working in other research areas, in industry, or in computer and software development.