Explaining the density profiles of dark matter halos with neural networks

Can machine learning make new discoveries in astrophysics? An ‘explainable’ neural network is employed to get insights into the origin of dark matter halo density profiles. The network discovers that the shape of the profile in the halo outskirts is described by a single parameter related to the most recent accretion of mass. This is done without prior knowledge of the halo’s evolution history being provided during training.

Otto Hahn Medal for Oliver Zier

Former MPA PhD student Oliver Zier received one of the Otto Hahn Medals this year at the Max Planck Society's annual assembly in Berlin. The prize is awarded for the development of novel numerical techniques that allow the accurate simulation of rotationally supported, cold, magnetized astrophysical disks. more

Understanding the cosmic web: Unveiling the evolution of cosmic filaments with the MillenniumTNG simulation

A careful analysis of the filaments in the cosmic large-scale structure has revealed interesting new findings about the evolution and complexities of the cosmic web. While some filaments show a significant evolution – depending on their cosmic environment – global filament properties are preserved, which could be used in future cosmological studies. The MPA team also developed a new method to allow for rigorous calibration of the filament catalogues.

<span><span><span><span><span><span>Black-hole binary tests supernova theory</span></span></span></span></span></span>

Observations of a newly discovered binary star system combined with advanced models of stellar collapse have provided key insights into the formation of stellar mass black holes. A team of international researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the Niels Bohr Institute (NBI), University of Copenhagen, conclude that massive black holes can form without a bright supernova explosion. The energy from the collapse is carried away mainly by lightweight neutrino particles with only small asymmetry, leading to a small natal kick for the black hole. more

<span><span><span><span>Full STEAM ahead for astronomy in Uganda! </span></span></span></span>

End of April, the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Agriculture, and Mathematics) festival took place at Kyambogo University in Uganda. One of the highlights: the mobile planetarium set up by Benard Nsamba, head of the MPA partner group and Branco Weiss fellow. more

<span><span><span><span>Unveiling the Universe at the field level</span></span></span></span>

The distribution of galaxies on large, cosmological scales holds important clues on the nature of dark matter, the properties of dark energy and the origin of our Universe. Yet, optimally retrieving this information from observations is challenging. MPA researchers are developing a novel analysis approach, where they follow the evolution of cosmic structures through their entire formation history. Enabling a very detailed comparison between theoretical models and observational data, this approach will allow measuring key parameters of dark matter and dark energy very precisely. more

Probing Cold Gas with the Resonance Doublet of Singly Ionized Magnesium<br /> 

Traditional studies of the gas around galaxies rely in particular on absorption and emission features of neutral hydrogen, the simplest and most abundant element in the universe. MPA researchers have now investigated alternative tracers, in particular the resonance doublet of singly ionized magnesium and found that analyzing this emission can lead to significant advances in studying the circum-galactic medium. They showed the potential of the magnesium doublet as an alternative to Lyman-alpha emission through a new radiative transfer code and suggest that the magnesium doublet ratio could even be used as a tracer of the Lyman-continuum escape. more

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