Research Highlights

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

Current Research Highlights

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Starburst cycles in galaxies

January 01, 2015
While it is well known that galaxies reside in halos of dark matter, there has been disagreement about the detailed distribution of dark matter between cosmological simulations and observations: the so-called "cuspy halo problem". Astrophysicists at the MPA have now used spectral features in a number of SDSS galaxies to show that strong starbursts occur frequently enough in low mass galaxies flatten the inner mass profiles of these systems, explaining why the theoretically predicted "cusps" are not observed. [more]
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A new standard ruler: Measuring angular diameter distances using time-delay strong lenses

December 01, 2014
Since the discovery of the expansion of the universe in 1929, measuring cosmological distances has played a fundamental role in testing the cosmological models. Scientists at MPA now propose a crucially improved ruler method in addition to the well-known standard candle and standard ruler methods, which use the known luminosity or the known size of an object, respectively. For their method, they use a strong gravitational lens system with a time-varying source (e.g. a quasar) to measure the angular diameter distance to the lens. This method opens a new avenue to chart our universe and to understand the origin of the acceleration of the universe. [more]
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Stars influence the central distribution of dark matter in galaxy clusters

November 01, 2014
Dark matter is at the centre of our understanding of the physics of the early Universe, of cosmic large-scale structure and of galaxy formation. In its simplest form, "cold dark matter" consists of non-relativistic weakly interacting particles of a kind not included in the standard model of particle physics. On astrophysical scales the dark matter only interacts with baryons (ordinary matter) through the force of gravity. Because of the simple physics this entails, its dynamics and clustering can be followed through N-body simulations. Recently, scientists at the MPA have performed cosmological N-body simulations showing that the mergers of galaxies (containing both stars and dark matter) at the centre of galaxy clusters can alter the central distribution of dark matter in a way that alleviates recent discrepancies found between observations and simulations. [more]
 
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