At any given time the MPA has about 40 scientists working on long-term positions at postdoctoral level and above, up to 20 foreign visitors brought in for periods of varying length under a vigorous visitor programme, and about 35 graduate students. Most students are also enrolled for degrees in one of the two large universities in Munich, the Technical University Munich (TUM) and the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU). Institute directors and a number of the senior staff at MPA have teaching affiliations with one or other of these universities. The majority of overseas students are also enrolled in the International Max Planck research School on Astrophysics, a joint programme of the MPA, the MPE, ESO and the LMU observatory which is one of the largest centres for graduate research in astrophysics in the world, covering subjects from planets and stars through galaxies to cosmology. Access to the world's largest telescopes and a stimulating scientific environment provide our students with the ideal conditions for their PhD research.
Interaction with local institutions is enhanced by an Excellence Cluster funded by the German Research Foundation in the field of astroparticle physics. Other participants in this programme include the physics departments of the two universities, the observatory of the LMU, and the MPI für Physik.
The MPA building itself is a major asset for its research activities. It was specially designed by the same architect as ESO headquarters, and the two buildings are generally considered as important and highly original examples of the architecture of their period. Although the unconventional geometry of the MPA can easily confuse first-time visitors, its open and centrally focussed plan is very effective at encouraging interaction between scientists and makes for a pleasant and stimulating research environment.
The MPA and the MPE share a large and fully stocked astronomical library, which is housed in the MPA building. All major astronomical books and periodicals are available. The library staff can also provide access to a variety of on-line archives and are currently extending this capability. Further library material is available at ESO, which in addition maintains a complete collection of optical sky maps and photographic sky surveys.