Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy

Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy

The Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn has left its mark on the terrestrial landscape: a gigantic white dish that towers into the sky near Effelsberg in the Eifel hills – the 100-metre telescope. When the scientists there or at the other antennae worldwide reach for the stars, the weather does not necessarily have to be good, as radio waves can pass through clouds. In this spectral range, which is invisible to the human eye, the researchers observe both infant stellar objects and stars frail with age, molecules in the interstellar medium and far away radio galaxies, and the centre of the Milky Way and magnetic fields, as well as dust and gas at cosmological distances. And since one telescope on its own is often not sufficient for all this, the radio astronomers in Bonn work with so-called interferometry – they link together several other antennae around the world to form a “giant eye”.


Auf dem Hügel 69
53121 Bonn
Phone: +49 228 525-0
Fax: +49 228 525-229

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):
IMPRS for Astronomy and Astrophysics

In addition, there is the possibility of individual doctoral research. Please contact the directors or research group leaders at the Institute.

Department Fundamental physics in radio astronomy more
Department Millimeter and submillimeter astronomy more
Department Radio astronomy / Very long baseline radiointerferometry more
Close-up of a galaxy nucleus
Astronomers investigate radio jet of a supermassive black hole in so far unprecedented detail
The far side of the Milky Way
Astronomers achieve record measurement for an improved picture of our home galaxy more
Antares' turbulent twilight
A map of gas distribution and velocities in the atmosphere of a red supergiant delivers insights into the fate of a star more
<p>4.6 billion-year-old galaxy shines light on our universe</p>
A distant galaxy's effects on radio waves provide clues about the formation of cosmic magnetic fields more
Portrait of a black hole
IRAM’s 30-metre dish is part of the Event Horizon Telescope which is looking into the centre of the Milky Way more
Pulsars are the most compact material objects in the universe. Their diameter is approximately equal to that of the city of Munich, but they contain the mass of the Sun. These extreme conditions make them ideal test objects for the theory of general relativity, as the work of Michael Kramer and his colleagues from the Bonn-based Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy shows.
When the universe came into being 13.7 billion years ago, there was initially only
radiation. A few hundred million years later, however, the space was filled with galaxies –
tremendously productive star factories that don’t fit quite so well with the image of a
gradual cosmic evolution. Researchers like Fabian Walter from the Max Planck Institute
for Astronomy in Heidelberg are attempting to illuminate a dark epoch of the universe.
Receiver development scientist
Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn June 28, 2018
Backend development scientist or engineer
Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy, Bonn June 28, 2018

Zooming into the heart of a radio galaxy

2018 Boccardi, Bia
Astronomy Astrophysics

The formation of relativistic jets in active galaxies is a poorly understood physical process. Providing observational constraints for theoretical models is a crucial but challenging task, since it requires the imaging of emission regions in the immediate proximity of the black hole. We have observed the prototype radio galaxy Cygnus A through very-long-baseline interferometry at millimeter wavelengths, and obtained a sharp view of the jet base. Our analysis of the jet kinematic properties and internal structure suggests that the jet of Cygnus A is a disk wind accelerated by magnetic fields.


Radio bursts from deep space

2017 Spitler, Laura
Astronomy Astrophysics
For the last 10 years radio astronomers have been detecting short-duration, strong bursts of radio waves from unknown astronomical sources outside our own Galaxy. The discovery of these fast radio bursts (FRBs) sparked a lot of interest, because the estimated distances to the FRBs is 100s of millions to billions of light years. It is an astrophysical puzzle how radio bursts of such intensity can be produced. more
The APEX telescope in Chile observed the sky position of the oldest historical nova, first discovered in 1670. Very surprisingly, emission from a multitude of different, even organic molecules was detected. Their peculiar isotopologic composition suggests that by no means ”normal” interstellar gas is observed, but rather material that was set free in a collision of two stars. This completely new source of interstellar molecular emission permits investigations of the end products of stellar collisions, a process that possibly occurs much more frequently than previously thought. more

Binary Supermassive Black Holes at the Cores of Galaxies

2015 Komossa, S.; Britzen, S.
Astronomy Astrophysics
Binary supermassive black holes are important for our understanding of the galaxies’ formation and evolution. Coalescing binaries are among the strongest emitters of gravitational waves in the universe. With high-resolution radio observations close pairs of massive black holes can be resolved spatially, providing a direct means of detection. The closest binaries can no longer be spatially resolved, and other methods of detection are in use. Recently, first hints for the influence of a supermassive binary black hole on the lightcurve of an X-ray outburst from a non-active galaxy were found. more

Infrared Interferometry of dust and gas disks surrounding young stars

2014 Kreplin, Alexander; Weigelt, Gerd; Grinin, Vladimir; Hofmann, Karl-Heinz; Schertl, Dieter; Tambovtseva, Larisa
Astronomy Astrophysics
Infrared interferometry with three or more telescopes can provide an angular resolution that is as high as the theoretical resolution of a telescope with a mirror diameter of 130m. It is even possible to perform infrared interferometric measurements with both high angular resolution and high spectral resolution simultaneously. This method enables us to obtain unique insights into the circumstellar disks of young stars and makes studies of the accretion process possible. Measurements of the young stars KK Oph und MWC 297 are presented. more
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