Research Reports

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Young, still growing Jupiter-like exoplanet surrounded by material with enough mass to form three Earth moons more

First measurement of isotopes in the atmosphere of an exoplanet more

Laboratory astrophysicists led by Jiao He (Max Planck Institut for Astronomy) have found a new mechanism that could explain how complex organic molecules form in interstellar clouds – a key open question in astrochemistry. The mechanism depends on unusual properties uncovered in experiments with artificial "cosmic chemistry labs" – simplified models of the ice-covered dust grains that facilitate chemical reactions in outer space. The transition to so-called "polycrystalline" carbon monoxide ice could allow embedded molecules and radicals to cluster within the ice, paving the way for more complex chemical reactions. The results have been published in the Astrophysical Journal Letters. more

Research combining systematic observations with cosmological simulations has found that, surprisingly, black holes can help certain galaxies form new stars. On scales of galaxies, the role of supermassive black holes for star formation had previously been seen as destructive – active black holes can strip galaxies of the gas that galaxies need to form new stars. The new results, published in the journal Nature, showcase situations where active black holes can, instead, "clear the way" for galaxies that orbit inside galaxy groups or clusters, keeping those galaxies from having their star formation disrupted as they fly through the surrounding intergalactic gas.  more

A rare kind of galaxy is at the heart of a new citizen science project that is being unveiled today: "Cosmological Jellyfish" is part of the Zooniverse platform, where volunteers can contribute to genuine scientific research projects. In the new project, participants look at the results of a cosmological simulation and identify galaxies that look somewhat like jellyfish. The jellyfish-like appearance is an indicator that the galaxy in question has interacted with gas in a galaxy cluster – which is what the creators of the project, the group of Annalisa Pillepich at the Max Planck Institute for Astronomy, want to study further. more

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