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All News

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Wanted: the rotating radio emission of the Milky Way

July 01, 2017
The magnetic fields of the Milky Way cause electrons with nearly the speed of light to rotate and to emit radio waves. As consequence, this radiation should also "rotate" slightly, it is circularly polarized. This very weak circular polarization of the Milky Way, however, has not been observed so far. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and colleagues have now predicted some properties of this polarization and created a "wanted poster" to allow targeted searches. A measurement of the circular polarization would provide important insights into the structure of the galactic magnetic fields and confirm that electrons - and not positrons - are the source of this radio emission in the Milky Way. [more]
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Radioactive elements in Cassiopeia A suggest a neutrino-driven explosion

June 21, 2017
Stars exploding as supernovae are the main sources of heavy chemical elements in the Universe. In particular, radioactive atomic nuclei are synthesized in the hot, innermost regions during the explosion and can thus serve as probes of the unobservable physical processes that initiate the blast. Using elaborate computer simulations, a team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) and RIKEN in Japan were able to explain the recently measured spatial distributions of radioactive titanium and nickel in Cassiopeia A, a roughly 340 year old gaseous remnant of a nearby supernova. The computer models yield strong support for the theoretical idea that such stellar death events can be initiated and powered by neutrinos escaping from the neutron star left behind at the origin of the explosion. [more]
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State Prize of Russia for Rashid Sunyaev

June 19, 2017
Professor Rashid Sunyaev, Director of the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, received the State Prize of the Russian Federation in Science and Technology jointly with Nikolay Shakura, professor of astrophysics at Moscow State University, for their seminal 1973 paper "Black holes in binary systems. Observational appearance". [more]
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Matteo Bugli wins Leibniz Scaling Award

June 13, 2017
During a scaling workshop end of May at the Leibniz-Rechenzentrum, Matteo Bugli from MPA won the Leibniz Scaling Award. He was able to produce the best relative improvement with his ECHO code for three-dimensional simulations of relativistic magnetized accretion disks orbiting around black holes. [more]
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Intense radiation and winds emitted by massive stars regulate star formation in galaxies

June 01, 2017
Only a small fraction of the stars that form in the Milky Way are much more massive than our Sun and explode as supernovae type II at the end of their lifetimes. Still, these high-mass stars influence the surrounding interstellar medium (ISM) much more than their small number might suggest, both by their intense radiation and powerful winds (“pre-supernova feedback”) and through their violent supernova explosions (“supernova feedback”). Scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, in the framework of the SILCC collaboration, use complex supercomputer simulations to investigate the detailed impact of the different feedback processes on the ISM with conditions similar to our solar neighborhood. Ionizing radiation from young, massive stars dominates their energy output and can exceed the energy released during supernova explosions by an order of magnitude. Only if the simulation includes this radiative feedback and the momentum input from stellar winds are the results consistent with observations of the ISM and the star formation rate is reduced. [more]
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Shaw Prize for Simon D.M. White

May 24, 2017
Max Planck Director receives award for numerical simulations of structure formation in the early universe [more]
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“Gravitational noise” interferes with determining the coordinates of distant sources

May 01, 2017
It is widely known that our planet Earth and the Solar System itself are embedded in the Milky Way, and it is through this galaxy that we look out onto the Universe. As it turns out, this has a larger impact on astrophysical studies than previously thought. Our Galaxy’s gravitational field and its non-uniformity limit the accuracy of astrometric observations of distant – extragalactic – objects. An international group of astrophysicists including a researcher at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics tried to find out how strong this effect is. [more]
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