Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
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Highly ionized oxygen: signatures of galactic feedback

July 01, 2018
Oxygen, after hydrogen and helium, is the most abundant element in the universe. It is a fundamental tracer to learn more about the formation of single stars as well as entire galaxies. Understanding the origin of highly excited states of oxygen in the circumgalactic medium (CGM) around galaxies has proven difficult, and past theoretical models have had difficulty matching observational constraints. Using cosmological simulations from the IllustrisTNG suite, researchers at MPA have demonstrated how the feedback from supernovae and supermassive black holes can shape the heavy element content of the CGM, bringing it into agreement with data from the local universe. The amount of highly ionized oxygen around blue, star-forming galaxies is predicted to be noticeably higher than around red, quenched systems of exactly the same mass. [more]
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New Probes of Distant Galaxies and Their Cosmic Environments During the Peak Epoch of Star Formation

June 04, 2018
By Professor Alice Shapley, UCLA, Dept. of Physics and Astronomy [more]
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Gravitational Wave Messengers from the very early universe

June 01, 2018
Quantum fluctuations in the very early Universe give rise to temperature and polarisation anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background, and seed present-day cosmic structures. Primordial gravitational waves generated by these fluctuations carry information about the energy scale of inflation, and they are weakly non-Gaussian. However, primordial gravitational waves can also be generated by other sources, and carry imprints of the energy content of the early Universe. Scientists at MPA recently showed that these gravitational waves can be highly non-Gaussian, with a skewness much larger than for those generated by vacuum fluctuations. They concluded that non-Gaussianity is thus an important test of the origin of primordial gravitational waves. [more]
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Planck team receives Gruber cosmology prize

May 15, 2018
Last week the Gruber foundation announced that this year’s cosmology prize is awarded to the Planck team, which includes scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA). From 2009 to 2013 the European Space Agency’s Planck observatory collected data that has provided cosmology with the definitive description of the universe on the largest and smallest scales. “These measurements,” the Gruber Prize citation reads, “have led to the determination of cosmological parameters (matter content, geometry, and evolution of the universe) to unprecedented precision.” [more]
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Finding needles in a haystack

May 01, 2018
Previous studies of large AGN samples both a low and at high redshifts seemed to rule out galaxy mergers as the drivers for black hole growth. A new technique developed at MPA for selecting a rare type of active galactic nuclei now show that it is possible to identify a new class of AGN in which more than  80% of the galaxies turn out to be merging or interacting systems, with clear indications of an accreting black hole. A detailed statistical analysis then reveals that mergers drive  black hole formation in the most massive galaxies in the local Universe. [more]

Girls as researchers

April 26, 2018
During this year's Girls' Day at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA), 20 girls were faced with challenging research tasks and were able to experience how scientists collect and evaluate data. This event was part of the annual Girls' Day, a Germany-wide initiative to encourage girls to learn more about more male-dominated professions. [more]
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The primordial magnetic field in our cosmic backyard

April 01, 2018
At the very beginning of the Universe, not only elementary particles and radiation were generated but also magnetic fields. A team of researchers led by the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics now calculated what these magnetic fields should look like today in the local universe – in great detail and in 3D. To achieve this, first they traced back the current distribution of matter to the time of the Big Bang; this distribution of matter was then used to calculate the generation of the magnetic field; and finally the resulting fields were translated back to the present. Thus, the researchers were able to predict the structure and morphology of the primordial magnetic field in our cosmic neighbourhood for the first time. This field is incredibly weak; nevertheless, the prediction could help to address the challenge of measuring it. [more]
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