Maria Werhahn honoured with the Carl Ramsauer Prize

November 30, 2023

MPA postdoc Maria Werhahn has been awarded the Carl Ramsauer Prize by the Physikalische Gesellschaft zu Berlin for her doctoral thesis “Simulating Galaxy Evolution with Cosmic Rays: The Multi-Frequency View”. The award ceremony took place on 22 November 2023 at the Technical University of Berlin, where she also presented her work in a short lecture.

Cosmic rays (CR) are an essential component of the interstellar medium of galaxies and play an important role in their evolution. In particular, they can influence the dynamics of a galaxy by driving galactic outflows or heating the interstellar gas, which in turn affects the efficiency of star formation. To understand galaxy formation, it is therefore necessary to model this radiation accurately.

However, we can only directly measure cosmic rays in our local neighbourhood within the Milky Way. In other galaxies, we can only determine their properties indirectly by the radiation they emit. In her PhD thesis at the Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam (AIP), Maria Werhahn developed numerical methods to model the spectra of cosmic rays in galaxies and the associated emission processes. “I was particularly fascinated by how the properties of distant galaxies can be investigated using radio and gamma rays that originate from cosmic rays,” says Maria Werhahn.

Using high-resolution magneto-hydrodynamic simulations of galaxies, she compares these results with observations. This gives her an insight into the interplay between the rate of star formation and cosmic rays, the properties of cosmic ray transport and other fundamental physical processes in these galaxies. “I am very pleased that I can continue my work at the MPA in Garching, where I investigate in more detail the role cosmic rays play in galaxies,” she adds.

The Carl Ramsauer Prize is awarded by the Physikalische Gesellschaft zu Berlin in honour of the experimental physicist and first director of the AEG Research Institute Carl Ramsauer (1879-1955). Carl Ramsauer was the first chairman of the Physikalische Gesellschaft zu Berlin, re-established after the war, from 1949 to 1951. The first award ceremony took place in 1989, and since 2002 four outstanding doctoral theses in physics and related fields at Freie Universität Berlin, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Technische Universität Berlin and the University of Potsdam have been honoured each year. Since 2022, the Brandenburg University of Technology Cottbus-Senftenberg has also been eligible to nominate candidates.

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