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”.

Contact

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

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Department Millimeter and submillimeter astronomy

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Department Radio astronomy / Very long baseline radiointerferometry

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Cosmic collision produces neutrino

The volatile particle collected by the IceCube detector probably comes from the turbulent centre of a faraway galaxy

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Max Planck researcher receive Breakthrough Prize 2020

Franz-Ulrich Hartl and the Event Horizon Telescope Collaboration are honored with the world’s richest science prize

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A portrait of the first nine Lise Meitner Group Leaders

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Joining the Square Kilometre Array

Max Planck Society becomes newest member of SKA Organization

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Molecule from the early Universe

Astronomers find helium hydride ion in a planetary nebula

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Black holes swallow all light, making them invisible. That’s what you’d think anyway, but astronomers thankfully know that this isn’t quite the case. They are, in fact, surrounded by a glowing disc of gas, which makes them visible against this bright background, like a black cat on a white sofa. And that’s how the Event Horizon Telescope has now succeeded in taking the first picture of a black hole. Researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Radio Astronomy in Bonn and the Institute for Radio Astronomy in the Millimeter Range (IRAM) in Grenoble, France, were among those making the observations.

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 onlyradiation. 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 agradual cosmic evolution. Researchers like Fabian Walter from the Max Planck Institutefor Astronomy in Heidelberg are attempting to illuminate a dark epoch of the universe.

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The airborne observatory SOFIA reveals gas kinematics in the Lagoon nebula

2018 Wyrowsk, F.; Wiesemeyer, H.; Tiwari, M.; Klein, B.; Menten, K.M.

Astronomy Astrophysics

The airborne observatory SOFIA allows astronomical observations in the Far-Infrared, which is not accessible from the ground.  It covers the most important cooling lines of the interstellar medium. Velocity-resolved observations of these lines are crucial for our understanding of the star formation process. Here we present observations of the ionized carbon finestructure line in the Lagoon Nebula, which for the first time reveals the gas motions in the immediate environment of the nebula.

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Zooming into the heart of a radio galaxy

2017 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.

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Radio bursts from deep space

2016 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.

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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.

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Binary Supermassive Black Holes at the Cores of Galaxies

2014 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.

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