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All News

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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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Girls brave cold April weather

April 27, 2017
As in previous years at the end of April, MPA invited 30 girls to learn more about astronomy and what it means to pursue a career in science. This event was part of the annual Girls’ Day, an initiative throughout Germany to encourage girls to learn more about occupational areas that are still male dominated. Even though the weather did not cooperate, the girls were very active and braved the cold and the rain to visit the roof telescope and launch their “rockets”. [more]
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Simulating separate universes to study the clustering of dark matter

April 01, 2017
In the standard cosmological model, dark matter makes up roughly 25 % of the total energy budget of the Universe. However it cannot be observed directly, since it does not emit light. Understanding the way dark matter clusters together and forms structures is of crucial importance since it would help our understanding of the observed spatial distribution of galaxies (which should closely follow the dark matter distribution) and link this with early-Universe physics and the origin of initial perturbations. In this context, researchers at MPA and in other institutions worldwide came up with a new way of simulating the impact of large-scale primordial perturbations on the abundance of structures observed at late times, the so-called separate universe simulations. Using this technique, the MPA researchers recently obtained some of the most precise measurements of the local bias, confirming the known trend that more massive halos are more biased than smaller halos. [more]
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ALMA’s ability to see a “cosmic hole” confirmed

March 17, 2017
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. [more]
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The Circum-galactic Medium of Galaxies as Probe of Gas Accretion

March 01, 2017
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. [more]
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Probing the nature of the most luminous explosions

February 15, 2017
Supernovae are extremely bright stellar explosions – superluminous supernovae are even brighter. However, the nature of these most luminous explosions has remained a mystery. In a new study, MPA researchers now 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 that will use an exotic explosion mechanism rather than the standard neutrino-driven explosion believed to power most supernovae. [more]
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Constraining theories of gravity using the large-scale distribution of galaxies

February 01, 2017
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”, this puzzling observation might also be evidence for the inadequacy of Einstein’s theory of General Relativity (GR) to describe the law of gravity on very large cosmological scales. These considerations would have strong implications on our understanding of fundamental physics, warranting dedicated studies such as the one undertaken recently by researchers at MPA and MPE. In this work, the authors created mock universes with non-GR theories of gravity to test the validity of current observational methods to determine the rate at which structures grow in the Universe. This allowed them to place bounds on how much the current data allows the Universe to depart from Einstein’s prediction. Reassuringly, current observational methods do not show evidence for a biased performance when tested on mock universes with modified gravity. [more]
 
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