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The Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics

The Max-Planck-Institut für Astrophysik, usually called the MPA for short, is one of about 80 autonomous research institutes within the Max-Planck Society. These institutes are primarily devoted to fundamental research. Most of them carry out work in several distinct areas, each led by a senior scientist who is a "Scientific Member" of the Max-Planck Society.

The MPA was founded in 1958 under the direction of Ludwig Biermann. It was an offshoot of the MPI für Physik which at that time had just moved from Göttingen to Munich. In 1979 the headquarters of the European Southern Observatory (ESO) came to Munich from Geneva, and as part of the resulting reorganisation the MPA (then under its second director, Rudolf Kippenhahn) moved to a new site in Garching, just north of the Munich city limits.

The new building lies in a research park barely 50 metres from ESO headquarters and is physically connected to the buildings which house the MPI für Extraterrestrische Physik (MPE). This park also contains two other large research institutes, the MPI für Plasmaphysik (IPP) and the MPI für Quantenoptik (MPQ), as well as many of the scientific and engineering departments of the Technische Universität München (TUM). The MPA is currently led by a Board of five directors, Guinevere Kauffmann, Eiichiro Komatsu, Volker Springel, Rashid Sunyaev and Simon White.