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Original 1541689444

A Cold Super-Earth in our Neighbourhood

November 14, 2018
An international group of astronomers, involving the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg, has succeeded in detecting a planet around Barnard's star, which is only six lightyears away. The planet has just over three times the mass of Earth and is slightly colder than Saturn. The discovery was made by measuring the periodic change in the radial velocity of the parent star. The spectrograph CARMENES, developed to a large part by the MPIA, played an important role in this discovery. [more]
Teaser 1537780666

Tracking the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua to its home

September 25, 2018
A team of astronomers led by Coryn Bailer-Jones of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy has tracked the interstellar object ‘Oumuamua to several possible home stars. The object was discovered in late 2017 – this was the first time astronomers have been able to observe an astronomical object from another star system visiting our own Solar System. Bailer-Jones and his colleagues used data from the ESA astrometry satellite Gaia to find four plausible stars where ‘Oumuamua could have begun its long journey, more than a million years ago. [more]
Teaser 1532608878

Testing the predictions of general relativity near the Milky Way’s central black hole

July 26, 2018
For the first time, astronomers have clearly detected the effects predicted by general relativity for the orbit of a star around the central supermassive black hole of our home galaxy. The measurements took advantage of the closest approach of one particular star to the black hole in May 2018. The required high precision was provided by the GRAVITY instrument at ESO’s Very Large Telescope, which exploits the wave properties of light to allow for highly accurate relative positions of point sources. [more]
Original 1530018504

Detecting the boiling atmosphere of the hottest known exoplanet

July 02, 2018
Astronomers have found that the atmosphere of the hottest known exoplanet, the hot Jupiter-like planet KELT-9b, is "boiling off," with the escaping gas being captured by the host star. Using the CARMENES instrument at Calar Alto Observatory, Fei Yan and Thomas Henning of the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy in Heidelberg were able to detect the escaping hydrogen atmosphere of the planet. Their observations indicate a spread-out hydrogen envelope that is being pulled towards the host star.  [more]
Teaser 1530099589

Astronomers Witness the Birth of a Planet

July 02, 2018
Scientists from the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA) in Heidelberg and the SPHERE instrument consortium at the Very Large Telescope of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) in Chile have discovered and characterised an extremely young exoplanet in a state of its formation. This gas giant with the designation PDS 70 b, with a mass equivalent to several Jupiters, was detected orbiting the star PDS 70 within a gap of its protoplanetary disk. This means that PDS 70 b is still in the vicinity of its birth place and likely still accumulating material. The observations provide a unique opportunity to test models of planet formation, and to learn about the early history of planetary systems, including our own solar system. [more]
 
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