Research Highlights

On this page you can find a monthly updated list of short articles highlighting current MPA research topics.

Current Research Highlights

Current Research Highlights

Original 1542710912

Gamma-rays Reveal the History of Star Formation in the Universe

December 01, 2018
Astrophysicists at MPA along with an international team of scientists have made a measurement of all the light in the universe, the so-called Extragalactic Background Light (EBL). The EBL is a sea of photons (particles of light) that have been gradually accumulating since the first stars started shining, shortly after the Big Bang. The results are published in Science on November 30th. [more]
Teaser 1540807180

Studying Lyman-α-galaxies with strong gravitational lensing

November 01, 2018
Strong gravitational lensing is an extremely powerful tool to go beyond the current limits in angular resolution and to investigate the high-redshift, i.e. distant Universe. Scientists at MPA take advantage of this phenomenon to perform a detailed study of 17 Lyman-α-galaxies and present an analysis of the sizes and star formation rates of their reconstructed ultra-violet (UV) continuum emission. [more]
Original 1537888554

The formation of (very) slowly rotating stars

October 01, 2018
Some stars are observed to rotate with extremely long periods, the ‘slow rotation problem’. A theory developed at MPA now shows how the magnetic field of a star’s ‘birth cloud’ can cause some stars to accumulate mass without acquiring significant rotation. [more]
Original 1535012337

The formation of the most diffuse giant galaxy cores in the Universe

September 01, 2018
Supermassive black holes (SMBH) of up to tens of billon solar masses are hiding in the centers of giant elliptical galaxies. At the same time, these galaxies have ‘missing’ nuclear light as the stellar densities at their cores are much lower than in other giant galaxies. A team of researchers at the University of Helsinki and the astronomical Max Planck Institutes in Garching have used a newly developed simulation technique to investigate the origin of this ‘missing’ light with realistic galaxy models. When two massive elliptical galaxies merge, many central stars are expelled during the final coalescence of the stellar nuclei and their SMBHs. This new model can explain the simultaneous formation of the most diffuse giant galaxy cores as well as other observed core properties such as decoupled rotation and anisotropic stellar velocity distributions. [more]
Teaser 1532958864

A novel 3D technique to study the kinematics of lensed galaxies

August 01, 2018
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.  [more]
Original 1528455711

Highly ionized oxygen: signatures of galactic feedback

July 01, 2018
Oxygen, after hydrogen and helium, is the most abundant element in the universe. It is a fundamental tracer to learn more about the formation of single stars as well as entire galaxies. 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. The amount of highly ionized oxygen around blue, star-forming galaxies is predicted to be noticeably higher than around red, quenched systems of exactly the same mass. [more]
Original 1536668845

Gravitational Wave Messengers from the very early universe

June 01, 2018
Quantum fluctuations in the very early Universe give rise to temperature and polarisation anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background, and seed present-day cosmic structures. Primordial gravitational waves generated by these fluctuations carry information about the energy scale of inflation, and they are weakly non-Gaussian. However, primordial gravitational waves can also be generated by other sources, and carry imprints of the energy content of the early Universe. Scientists at MPA recently showed that these gravitational waves can be highly non-Gaussian, with a skewness much larger than for those generated by vacuum fluctuations. They concluded that non-Gaussianity is thus an important test of the origin of primordial gravitational waves. [more]
 
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