The MPG is organising the nationwide Max Planck Day on 14 September, which will also include activities by MPA. The Max Planck Day wants to engage all people who are curious and interested in research: on #wonachsuchstdu you can post your own questions! At the same time, you'll find questions being researched by the scientists at the Max Planck Institutes as well as new video updates every week. (Please note that the website is in German.)
The TUM is organising a special Open Day on the occasion of their 150th anniversary. On 13th Oktober 2018 from 11:00 to 18:00 more than 30 institutes and related organisations will open their doors in Garching - joined by the other campus sites of TUM. MPA will join again in 2019. So this is your chance to visit one of the other institutions this year!
Gravitational lensing offers the possibility to study faint, far-away galaxies. MPA researchers have now developed the first three dimensional lens modelling method, which allows not only the reconstruction of the mass distribution of the foreground galaxy but also the kinematics of the background galaxy. Consequently, the matter content can now be studied also in young galaxies.
Oxygen, after hydrogen and helium, is the most abundant element in the universe. 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.
Quantum fluctuations in the very early Universe give rise to anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background, and seed present-day cosmic structures. In addition, these fluctuations generate primordial gravitational waves, which are weakly non-Gaussian. However, primordial gravitational waves can also be generated by other sources. Scientists at MPA recently showed that the level of non-Gaussianity, the skewness, can be used as an important test of the origin of primordial gravitational waves.
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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
The 2018 MPA summer party was not only a special thank you to this year’s Biermann lecturer Alice Shapley, UCLA, but also the occasion to congratulate two junior MPA scientists to their Kippenhahn Awards. Aniket Agrawal was honoured for his paper on “Large tensor non-Gaussianity from axion-gauge field dynamics”. Jens Stücker received the award for his paper “The median density of the Universe”.
The Planck consortium has made their final data release, including new processing of the cosmic microwave background temperature and polarisation data. This legacy dataset confirms the model of an 'almost perfect Universe', with some remaining oddities giving researchers some intriguing details to puzzle over.