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Rashid Sunyaev receives Zel'dovich Gold Medal

March 20, 2015
In 2015, the presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) decided to award MPA director Rashid Sunyaev with the Gold Medal named after Ya.B. Zel'dovich for a sequence of the papers about the very early universe, containing calculations about the last scattering of photons and the black body radiation that was later observed as the cosmic microwave background. This is the first time that the RAS honours a scientist with this medal for outstanding work in the field of physics and astrophysics. The award is named in honour of the Soviet physicist and physical chemist Ya B. Zel'dovich, PhD supervisor to Rashid Sunyaev and long-time collaborator. [more]
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Rashid Sunyaev receives Eddington Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society

March 01, 2015
In 2015, the Eddington Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society goes to Professor Rashid Sunyaev, director at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences. It is awarded for single investigations of outstanding merit in theoretical astrophysics. [more]
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Measuring gas velocities in galaxy clusters with X-ray images

March 01, 2015
X-ray observations provide us with detailed information on the density and temperature of the hot gas inside galaxy clusters. The other major gas characteristic that still needs to be measured is the gas velocity. While current generation X-ray observatories lack the required energy resolution to measure velocities directly, future observatories such as ASTRO-H and ATHENA will address this limitation. An international team including MPA scientists has shown that the power spectrum of the velocity field can inferred indirectly from existing X-ray images of relaxed clusters. Numerical simulations confirm this simple theoretical idea, opening a way of probing gas velocities using already existing X-ray data. [more]
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Planck reveals first stars were born late

February 12, 2015
New maps from ESA's Planck satellite uncover the "polarised" light from the early Universe across the entire sky, revealing that the first stars formed much later than previously thought. They also include information about our own Milky Way, showing that the contribution from dust in our galaxy is much more widespread than previously thought and revealing complex structures in the Galactic magnetic field. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics developed important software components for Planck and take part in the scientific interpretation of the mission data; in particular, they contributed to the analysis of the signals from galaxy clusters, from gravitational lensing of the CMB, from Galactic dust and magnetic fields, as well as from primordial magnetic fields. [more]
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Galactic anatomy with gamma rays

February 01, 2015
The anatomy of the Milky Way as seen in gamma light is full of mysteries. For example, there are gigantic bubbles of unknown origin above and below the center of the Milky Way that emit a lot of this high-energy radiation. A new method for imaging, developed at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics, now divided the Galactic gamma-radiation into three fundamental components: radiation from point sources, radiation from reactions of energetic protons with dense cold gas clouds, and radiation from electrons scattering light in the thin, hot, Galactic gas. The anatomic insights gained unravel some Galactic mysteries. Thus, it appears that the gamma-ray bubbles are simply outflows of ordinary, hot gas from the central region of the Milky Way. [more]
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Starburst cycles in galaxies

January 01, 2015
While it is well known that galaxies reside in halos of dark matter, there has been disagreement about the detailed distribution of dark matter between cosmological simulations and observations: the so-called "cuspy halo problem". Astrophysicists at the MPA have now used spectral features in a number of SDSS galaxies to show that strong starbursts occur frequently enough in low mass galaxies flatten the inner mass profiles of these systems, explaining why the theoretically predicted "cusps" are not observed. [more]
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A new standard ruler: Measuring angular diameter distances using time-delay strong lenses

December 01, 2014
Since the discovery of the expansion of the universe in 1929, measuring cosmological distances has played a fundamental role in testing the cosmological models. Scientists at MPA now propose a crucially improved ruler method in addition to the well-known standard candle and standard ruler methods, which use the known luminosity or the known size of an object, respectively. For their method, they use a strong gravitational lens system with a time-varying source (e.g. a quasar) to measure the angular diameter distance to the lens. This method opens a new avenue to chart our universe and to understand the origin of the acceleration of the universe. [more]
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