Dancing pattern of red supergiant stars on the sky

The bubbling surface of massive giant stars causes their observable positions on the sky to wobble. An international team of astrophysicists has now performed detailed simulations of the gas motions in the atmospheric layers of these stars and compared these with high-quality data of the Perseus stellar cluster. They find that the surface structures could indeed account for a large part of the measurement uncertainty in the observations. more

Biermann Lectures 2022: Insights on the Milky Way’s history and dynamics

By Prof. Dr. Amina Helmi (Kapteyn Astronomical Institute, Groningen). more

Reflected quasar light powers giant cool gas nebulae

Already in the early Universe, supermassive black holes with masses a billion times larger than the Sun appear to inhabit the centres of massive galaxies. As interstellar gas is accelerated in their powerful gravitational field, it emits copious amounts of radiation, outshining the entire galaxy as “quasars”. Recent observations have revealed that the first quasars are often surrounded by bright, giant nebulae. These can span up to several 100,000 light years, about ten times larger than their host galaxy. New detailed computer simulations of galaxy evolution performed at MPA have shed new light on these puzzling observations, reproducing them in striking detail. According to these new theoretical models, the observed extended nebulae can be explained as quasar light that reflects off cool neutral hydrogen clouds surrounding the quasar host galaxy. Crucially, this mechanism only works if the energy provided by the quasar is able to produce gigantic galactic winds that blow out large masses of gas from its immediate vicinity. This finding suggests that quasars shape galaxy evolution from the earliest stages of galaxy formation. more

Everything flows

Everything flows

April 05, 2022

Both in her research and her hobbies, Deepika Bollimpalli, is always in motion. more

Do massive red elliptical galaxies line up?

Are galaxy orientations distributed randomly in the cosmos? What appears to be a simple question might not only shed light on our understanding of galaxy and cluster formation, but also further our knowledge of cosmological models. MPA scientists and collaborators attempt to settle this question through the first direct, field-based measurement of whether and how massive red elliptical galaxies align with the tidal field of large scale structure. Their result confirms predictions of the (linear) alignment model of galaxy intrinsic alignment. The newly presented method also opens up new avenues for cosmology and astrophysics. more

Scientists develop the largest, most detailed model of the early universe to date

The Thesan simulations help explain how light from the first galaxies transformed the Universe. more

Otto Hahn Medal for Francesca Rizzo

This year, former MPA PhD student Francesca Rizzo is one of the recipients of the Otto Hahn Medal. The Max Planck Society awards the prize to her for original and groundbreaking work into the kinematic and dynamical properties of high-redshift galaxies. more

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