Scientific Initiatives

Science is a cooperative venture, and large-scale project are usually tackled by more than one institute: in larger consortia or as a cooperative project between selected institutes.

MPIA is an integral part of the international astronomy landscape and takes part in a number of key initiatives:

The Heidelberg Initiative for the Origins of Life (HIFOL) seeks to understands one of the most fundamental questions for humanity: how did life emerge on Earth and whether life exists elsewhere in the Universe. HIFOL facilitates a wide range of interdisciplinary theoretical, experimental, and observational research covering the fields of astronomy, physics, geosciences, chemistry, biology and life sciences from a range of research institutes based in Heidelberg.
The PS1 Science Consortium funds the operation of the Pan-STARRS1 telescope on Mount Haleakala in Hawaii. The telescopes features the largest digital camera in the world. It makes repeated scans of the sky in order to provide time-series data of astronomical phenomena - a "movie" of the night sky. The consortium is made up of astronomers from 10 institutions from four countries, including MPIA.
MPIA is a member of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey IV (SDSS), a spectroscopic survey using the Sloan Foundation 2.5m Telescope at Apache Point Observatory. Previous SDSS have revolutionized astronomy, providing quality spectroscopic data in unprecedented amounts and enabling statistical analyses that previously would have been impossible.
MPIA is part of the Collaborative Research Center 881 at the University of Heidelberg, which is funded by the German Science Foundation (DFG). SFB 881 examines various properties of our home galaxy to obtain a better understanding of its structure and evolution, as well as of the evolution of galaxies in general.
MPIA takes part in the German Science Foundation's SPP 1573, which is dedicated to research on the interstellar medium: the dilute mixture of charged particles, atoms, molecules and dust grains filling interstellar space.
MPIA is one of the founders of the International Max Planck Research School "Astronomy and Cosmic Physics" at the University of Heidelberg, which provides an internationally competitive graduate programs to German and international Students.
This collaboration between MPIA, Princeton University,  Australian National University, Pontificia Universidad Catolica de Chile utilizes a network of six identical, fully automated wide-field telescopes on the Southern hemisphere to search for transiting exoplanets. The telescopes are located in Namibia, Australia and Chile.
Formation and evolution of the Sun, other stars, and planets is one of the most intriguing topics that puzzles humanity since centuries. According to contemporary knowledge, a Sun-like star is formed by the gravitational contraction of a quiscent dense clump located inside a large molecular cloud (made primarily of molecular hydrogen).
MPIA is a full member of the Optical Infrared Coordination Network for Astronomy (OPTICON).
OPTICON is the EC-Horizon-2020 funded coordination network to realize new astronomical research infrastructure, instrumentation initiatives and trans-national telescope access. As in the past, we also lead or contribute to several OPTICON workpages in this new H2020 network, reflecting MPIA's continuous role in shaping the roadmap to the future astronomical instrumentation. Details on the objectives of OPTICON, the individual workpackges, as well as numerous networking information (meetings, schools, TNA, ...) can be found at:
MPIA is a full member of the Exoplanet Atmosphere New Emission Transmission Spectra Analysis (ExopLANETS_A) EU-Horizon-2020 funded project. In the ExoplANETS_A project, we will develop novel data calibration and spectral extraction tools, as well as retrieval methods for spectra of transiting exoplanets. more
We propose the first coherent, statistically-significant study of the physics and chemistry of young protostellar systems, where disks are still accreting material from the surrounding envelope (Class 0 and I sources, PI: Caselli), and of more evolved, isolated planet-forming disks (Class II sources, PI: Henning).  more

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