Dr. Hannelore Hämmerle
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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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Buoyant bubbles in galaxy clusters and heating of the intracluster medium

March 01, 2018
Buoyant bubbles of relativistic plasma in galaxy cluster cores plausibly play a key role in conveying the energy from a supermassive black hole to the intracluster medium (ICM). While the amount of energy supplied by the bubbles to the ICM is set by energy conservation, the physical mechanisms involved in coupling the bubbles and the ICM are still being debated. A team of researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) and the University of Oxford argues that internal waves might be efficient in extracting energy from the bubbles and distributing it over large masses of the ICM. [more]
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Tsunamis and Ripples: Effects of Scalar Waves on Screening in the Milky Way

February 01, 2018
Modified gravity models often contain some form of screening to reduce to general relativity in our immediate cosmic neighbourhood. Scalar waves from astrophysical or cosmological events were thought to significantly disrupt this screening of the Solar System, invalidating previously viable modified gravity models. MPA scientists show that disruptions are actually generally negligible for physically relevant setups. [more]
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How black holes shape the cosmos

February 01, 2018
Astrophysicists from Heidelberg, Garching, and the USA gained new insights into the formation and evolution of galaxies. They calculated how black holes influence the distribution of dark matter, how heavy elements are produced and distributed throughout the cosmos, and where magnetic fields originate. This was possible by developing and programming a new simulation model for the universe, which created the most extensive simulations of this kind to date. Some of the first results of the “IllustrisTNG” project have now been published in three articles in the journal Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. These findings should help to answer fundamental questions in cosmology. [more]
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Neutron Stars on the Brink of Collapse

January 01, 2018
Neutron stars are the densest objects in the Universe; however, their exact characteristics remain unknown. Using recent observations and simulations, an international team of scientists including researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics (MPA) has managed to narrow down the size of these stars. Thus the scientists were able to exclude a number of theoretical descriptions for the neutron star matter. [more]
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