Physics vs. Piano 

September 14, 2021

Instead of following a musical career, MPA postdoc Tiara Battich is investigating the processes inside hot sub-dwarf stars
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Cosmological simulations show that the growth of galaxies in the early Universe is regulated by the interplay between gas accretion onto dark-matter halos and ejection of matter by stars and active galactic nuclei (AGN). While these processes are routinely described in theoretical works, still little is known from observations on the complex exchanges of mass and energy within the halos of galaxies, where large-scale infall (i.e. accretion) meets outflows (i.e. ejection). Recently, an international team of astronomers was able to probe the halo gas of a massive galaxy system, SMM J02399-0136, using a novel approach. These observations unveiled – for the first time – the infall towards the galaxies of a large mass of diffuse, highly turbulent multiphase gas, pervaded by powerful outflows and more than 10 times larger than the star-forming galaxies. more

The record sensitivity of the X-ray survey performed by the Spektrum-Roentgen-Gamma Observatory makes it possible to discover very rare and unusual X-ray sources. After the recently completed third all-sky survey, astronomers identified a gigantic, “round” object, named G116.6-26.1, with an angular size of 8 times the Moon or a physical size of truly astounding 600-700 light-years. The authors of the discovery believe this to be the remnant of a thermonuclear supernova, which exploded some 40,000 years ago. The source is located high above the plane of our Galaxy, most likely in the hot, low density gas of the Milky Way halo. Such an unusual environment makes the remnant almost ten times brighter in X-rays than naive models would predict. This and similar remnants (if more are to be found) open a new way of probing the elusive hot gaseous halo of our Galaxy. more

Benard Nsamba receives prestigious fellowship to study stars and inspire Ugandan students more

Astronomers have made the rare sighting of two stars spiralling to their doom by spotting the tell-tale signs of a teardrop-shaped star. The tragic shape is caused by a massive nearby white dwarf distorting the star with its intense gravity, which will also be the catalyst for an eventual supernova that will consume both. more

The Spektrum-Roentgen-Gamma (SRG) orbital X-ray observatory receives the Award “for the creation of the world's best X-ray map of the entire sky, for the discovery of millions of previously unknown accreting supermassive black holes at cosmological redshifts, for the detection of X-rays from tens of thousands of galaxy clusters, filled mainly with dark matter, and for permitting the detailed investigation of the growth of the large- scale structure of the universe during the era of dark energy dominance”. more

The gas in and around galaxies can be probed with absorption line studies using light from background quasars. Scientists at MPA have now used a large sample from the SDSS DR16 to automatically detect absorbers in background quasars and connect them with foreground galaxies. Their analysis shows that cool circumgalactic gas has a different physical origin for star-forming versus quiescent galaxies. more

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