Researchers using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) successfully imaged a radio “hole” around a galaxy cluster 4.8 billion light-years away. This is the highest resolution image ever taken of such a hole caused by the Sunyaev-Zel'dovich effect (SZ effect). The image proves ALMA’s high capability to investigate the distribution and temperature of gas around galaxy clusters through the SZ effect.
In collaboration with researchers from the USA, MPA scientists have mounted a series of ambitious experiments that use a combination of quasar absorption-line spectra, neutral hydrogen line data, and state-of-the-art cosmological hydrodynamical simulations to probe the interface between galaxies and their surrounding gaseous environment. The researchers found that galaxies with gas-rich disks are embedded within gas-rich halos and that the gas in these halos is distributed smoothly and relatively isotropically.
Supernovae are extremely bright stellar explosions – superluminous supernovae are even brighter. In a new study, MPA researchers present their simulations of superluminous supernova spectra months and even years after the outbreak and show that they are very similar to gamma-ray bursts, another type of highly energetic explosions. In addition, the results point to very high masses of oxygen and magnesium, suggesting very massive progenitor stars.
By using galaxies as giant gravitational lenses, an international group of astronomers including researchers at the MPA have made an independent measurement of how fast the Universe is expanding. The newly measured expansion rate for the local Universe is consistent with earlier findings - but in intriguing disagreement with measurements of the early Universe. This hints at a fundamental problem at the very heart of our understanding of the cosmos.
The origin of the current accelerated expansion of the Universe remains one of the major unsolved mysteries in physics today. While this could be a sign of the mysterious “Dark Energy”, it might also be evidence for the inadequacy of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity (GR). Researchers at MPA and MPE created mock universes with non-GR theories of gravity to test the validity of current observational methods. This allowed them to place bounds on how much the current data allows the Universe to depart from Einstein’s prediction.
Why do galaxies in enormous galaxy clusters look different from normal, isolated galaxies? To answer this question, an international research team led by MPA has created the Hydrangea simulations, a suite of 24 high-resolution cosmological hydrodynamic simulations of galaxy clusters containing over 20,000 individual galaxies. These simulations provide astrophysicists with a powerful new tool to understand how galaxies formed and evolved in one of the most extreme environments of our Universe.
Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the University of Amsterdam just published the most precise analysis so far of the fluctuations in the gamma-ray background. They used more than six years of data gathered by the Fermi Large Area Telescope and found two different source classes contributing to the gamma-ray background. No traces of a contribution of dark matter particles were found in the analysis.
Complex predictions such as election forecasts or the weather reports often have to be simplified before communication. In astronomical data analysis, researchers are also confronted with the problem of simplifying probabilities. Two researchers at the MPA now show that there is only one mathematically correct way to measure how embarrassing a simplified prediction can be. According to this, the recipient of a prediction should be deprived of the smallest possible amount of information.
A pioneer in the development of electronic computing machines in Germany and one of the founders of gravitational wave astronomy is gone: on 4 January 2017, the astrophysicist Heinz Billing died at the age of 102. Billing was scientific member at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics in Garching from 1961 to '82.
Former MPA director Prof. Dr. Rudolf Kippenhahn has received the Honorary Membership of the German Astronomical Society. The President of the Astronomical Society, Prof. Dr. Matthias Steinmetz and Vice-President Prof. Dr. Joachim Wambsganß in Göttingen presented Kippenhahn with the official document just before christmas. The honorary membership was already announced at the AG anniversary 2016 in Bochum in September. With this award the society appreciates both Rudolf Kippenhahn's great research record and his outstanding contributions in the field of science communication.