Combining radio and X-ray images by LOFAR and SRG/eROSITA, respectively, astrophysicists have studied a group of galaxies where an incredibly rich system of radio-bright filaments are embedded in an atmosphere of hot X-ray emitting gas. These filaments were initially produced by outflows from a supermassive black hole a few hundred million years ago – roughly, when dinosaurs appeared on Earth. Despite their impressive age, the filaments still survive and form an intricate maze of threads and geometrical patterns that are reminiscent of structures formed when buoyant plumes rise in the atmosphere. The lack of full mixing between the X-ray and radio-emitting plasma is particularly interesting for physical models of the so-called mechanical AGN feedback. more

A new study led by the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics shows that massive stars produce twice as much carbon when they have a binary partner. The scientists base this on new state-of-the-art computer simulations. Their findings are a small but important step towards better understanding the cosmic origin of the elements we are made of. more

Approximately 13 billion years ago, the radiation produced by the first galaxies completely transformed the Universe. The vast amount of hydrogen filling the space between galaxies was  ionized in a process called cosmic reionization. Despite their intimate connection, the formation of the first galaxies and the reionization process are typically studied separately. An international team led by and including MPA researchers has now produced the first suite of simulations designed to simultaneously investigate these two processes during the infancy of the Universe, unveiling features of their connection. This new numerical effort – soon to be released publicly – provides a unique platform for investigating the young Universe and to fully exploit the forthcoming James Webb Space Telescope. The first results from THESAN have already shown that its unique combination of physical accuracy and simulated scales allows to reproduce most of the available data, including some that escaped previous numerical efforts. more

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

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

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