Max Planck Institute for Physics

Max Planck Institute for Physics

What gives matter its mass? This is one of the questions being investigated by scientists at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. They study the smallest building blocks of matter and how they interact with each other. The behaviour of these building blocks – the quarks, charged leptons and neutrinos – helps them to understand the origin of the universe and its present form. The Institute researchers conduct experiments at the largest particle physics laboratories around the world. These include CERN in Geneva, KEK in Tsukuba (Japan) and DESY in Hamburg. Moreover, they also perform experiments to investigate cosmic radiation on the Canary Island of La Palma and the neutrino experiment in the Gran Sasso underground laboratory in Italy. Theoreticians not only team up with the experimenters to jointly interpret the results of the experiments, but also to develop new theories in order to better characterise our universe.


Föhringer Ring 6
80805 München
Phone: +49 89 32354-0
Fax: +49 89 3226-704

PhD opportunities

This institute has an International Max Planck Research School (IMPRS):
IMPRS on Elementary Particle Physics

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

Tracking the smallest particles
The Max Planck Institute for Physics commemorates its 100th anniversary more
Powerhouse crab pulsar

Powerhouse crab pulsar

January 14, 2016
MAGIC telescopes detect extremely energetic photons more
Dispatches from the middle ages of the universe
MAGIC telescopes measure gamma radiation from a remote galaxy more
A black hole under the gravitational lens
An unusual observation method uncovers processes near the event horizon of a distant, massive monster more
Lightning flashes from a black hole
MAGIC telescopes observe an extremely short, powerful outburst of radiation in Galaxy IC 310 more
Celebrity at stand-up reception
The Higgs particle gives mass to matter - and wings to experimental physicists more
“The most important discovery in recent decades”
Interview with Sandra Kortner of the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, who heads a Minerva junior research group at the ATLAS experiment of the LHC and also coordinates an international group of researchers who are using ATLAS to look for the Higgs particle. more
CERN experiments observe particle consistent with long-sought Higgs boson
At a seminar held at CERN today as a curtain raiser to the year’s major particle physics conference, ICHEP2012 in Melbourne, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented their latest preliminary results in the search for the long sought Higgs particle. Both experiments observe a new particle in the mass region around 125-126 GeV. more
Powerhouse in the Crab Nebula
MAGIC telescopes measure the highest-energy gamma rays from a pulsar to date, calling theory into question more
In a seminar held at CERN today, the ATLAS and CMS experiments presented the status of their searches for the Standard Model Higgs boson. more
“Next year we will see the Higgs particle - or exclude its existence”
Interview with Prof. Dr. Siegfried Bethke, Director at the Max Planck Institute of Physics in Munich, about the current research results from the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) more
A galaxy as particle accelerator
Astronomers observe simultaneously the centre of the galaxy M 87 for the first time in gamma and radio frequencies of light more
The MAGIC-II Telescope is ready to team up
With its reflective area of 247 square meters, a second MAGIC telescope is now ready to commence operations more
High energy and far vision
With a 17-m diameter mirror the MAGIC telescope is the largest stand-alone gamma-ray telescope. MAGIC has discovered the most distant very-high energy gamma-ray emission. more
Tracking the Riddle of Cosmic Gamma Rays
First simultaneous observation of a gamma-ray burst in the X-ray and in the very high energy gamma ray band more
When, on a clear night, you gaze at twinkling stars, glimmering planets or the cloudy band of the Milky Way, you are actually seeing only half the story – or, to be more precise, a tiny fraction of it. With the telescopes available to us, using all of the possible ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum, we can observe only a mere one percent of the universe. The rest remains hidden, spread between dark energy and dark matter.
Gravitational waves are some of the most spectacular predictions of the 1915 general theory of relativity. However, it wasn’t until half a century later that physicist Joseph Weber attempted to track them down. In the early 1970s, Max Planck scientists also began working in this research field, and developed second-generation detectors. The groundwork laid by these pioneers meant the waves in space-time ceased to be just figments of the imagination: in September 2015 they were finally detected.
Science without computers? Unthinkable, nowadays! Yet over half a century ago, that was commonplace. Then, in the early 1950s, mathematician and physicist Heinz Billing entered the scene - and introduced the Max Planck Society to electronic computing. It all started with the "Göttingen 1."

The Particle Hunter

1/2014 Physics & Anstronomy
Some enthusiastically call it the “discovery of the century” when they speak of the discovery of the Higgs boson at Europe’s CERN laboratory in the summer of 2012. As a group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich, Sandra Kortner is closely tied to this research – all the while managing her role as the mother of two small children.
If cosmologists are correct, there is a form of matter in the universe that is six times more
abundant than the matter we know. It is invisible, which is why it’s called dark matter.
Postulated for the first time 80 years ago, it has yet to be detected directly. Researchers at
the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich and the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear
Physics in Heidelberg want to solve this cosmic mystery in the next few years.
Many of the instruments and devices physicists need for their research must first be designed – and their manufacture often requires fiddly precision work.
The Large Hadron Collider at CERN near Geneva will be put into operation in late 2007. Nuclear physicists aim to use this facility to reconstruct the Big Bang and penetrate the world of the most minuscule of particles.
Computer Scientist or Physicist (PhD)
Max Planck Institute for Physics, München May 16, 2018

Neutrinos: Tracking down the origin of matter in the universe

2018 Majorovits, Béla
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics
Are neutrinos responsible for the matter-antimatter asymmetry in the universe? Are neutrinos identical to their own antiparticles? The GERDA experiment for the search of the neutrinoless double beta decay was built to find answers to these questions. more

Axions as dark matter – a new search strategy

2017 Raffelt, Georg (für die MADMAX Arbeitsgruppe)
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics
The dark matter of the universe probably consists of some sort of new elementary particles, although we have no specific clue as to their identity. The axion is a traditional hypothesis that is lately receiving a lot of renewed attention with many new activities. If these extremely low-mass particles are the dark matter of our galaxy, we should picture them as a kind of classical wave phenomena that can be picked up with a special antenna, producing a microwave signal. A new idea to realize this effect opens up new perspectives in our search for dark matter. more

Cosmological inflation and string theory

2016 Blumenhagen, Ralph
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics
The precise measurement of the fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background confirms the model that in the early universe a period of rapid expansion of its todays visible part has taken place. The detection of remnant gravitational waves from this period would be another milestone of experimental cosmology and would have important theoretical consequences. The theoretical department of the Max-Planck-Institut für Physik is working on building theoretical models of inflation that are based on string theory, the candidate for a theory of quantum gravity. more

AWAKE: Proton driven Plasma Wakefield acceleration

2015 Caldwell, Allen; Muggli, Patric
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics
Progress in high-energy physics over the past decades has relied to a great extent on particle accelerators such as the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. We have proposed proton driven plasma wakefield acceleration as an approach capable of pushing the energy frontier for electron beams. The significant advantage of proton bunches as drivers of plasma wakes is the much greater energy of the driver compared to laser or electron bunch drivers. The AWAKE experiment will use the SPS proton beam at CERN for a first ever demonstration of strong plasma wakes generated by proton beams. more

Light into the Dark by Cherenkov Telescope Array

2014 Schweizer, Thomas
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics

Exciting results in gamma-ray astronomy have been obtained by the current generation Cherenkov telescope systems such as MAGIC. MAGIC is a ground-based detector, which consists of two 17 m diameter imaging Atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes on the Observatorio Roque de los Muchachos on the Canary island of La Palma. The next generation Cherenkov Telescope Array (CTA) is currently in design and its construction will start beginning of 2016. CTA is a large array of many telescopes of different sizes. Its sensitivity will be about 10 times that of MAGIC.


Electroweak symmetry breaking and the search for the Higgs boson

2013 Hollik, Wolfgang; Kortner, Sandra (für die ATLAS-Gruppe am Max-Planck-Institut für Physik)
Particle Physics
The fundamental structures of matter and forces, according to our present knowledge, are successfully described in terms of the Standard Model of particle physics. Thereby, the Higgs boson plays a central role since it is responsible for the masses of the fundamental particles. In the search for this last bulding block of the Standard Model, the breakthrough was achieved in July 2012 by the discovery of a new fundamental particle with a mass of about 125 GeV by the experiments ATLAS and CMS  at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at CERN. more

Search for Dark Matter with the CRESST Experiment

2012 Seidel, Wolfgang
Particle Physics
In spite of the convincing evidence for Dark Matter, up to now its nature couldn’t be clarified. Experiments for the direct detection of Dark Matter are concentrating mainly on the search for WIMPs (Weakly Interacting Massive Particles) which are presently the most favoured candidates for the composition of Dark Matter. The CRESST-Experiment is among these experiments using a novel, specially developed detector type. The first measurement period of the CRESST-Experiment lasted until mid of 2011. The results may be a first hint for the existence of light mass WIMPs. more

Particle Physics at the highest Energies – The ATLAS Experiment at the Large Hadron Collider

2011 Barillari, T.;Beimforde, M.; Bethke, S.; Bittner, B.; Bronner, J.; Capriotti, D.; Cortiana, G.; Dannheim, D.; Dubbert, J.; Ehrich, T.; Flowerdew, M.; Giovannini, P.; Goblirsch, M.; Göttfert, T.; Groh, M.; Haefner, P.; Jantsch, A.; Kaiser, S.; Kiryunin, A.; Kluth, S.; Kortner, O.; Kortner, S.; Kotov, S.; Kroha, H.; Macchiolo, A.; Menke, S.; Moser, H.-G.;  Nagel, M.; Nisius, R.; Oberlack, H.; Pospelov, G.; Pataraia, S.; Potrap, I.; Richter, R.; Salihagic, D.; Schacht, P.; Schwegler, P.; Seuster, R.; Stern, S.; Stonjek, S.; Vanadia, M.; von der Schmitt, H.; von Loeben, J.; Weigell, P.; Zhuravlov, V.
Particle Physics
The ATLAS experiment at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) records particle interactions in proton-proton collisions at 7 TeV, the highest collision energies mankind has ever produced. The aims are to confirm present theories of particle physics, the so-called Standard Model, and to search for new phenomena. The search for the Higgs-Boson, the only particle of the Standard Model not yet observed, has started. With the data taken this year and next year it might well be possible to discover the Higgs-Boson. more
Effective field theories represent one of the main tools to make predictions in elementary particle physics. They are particularly important for the Large Hadron Collider to achieve accurate descriptions of the effects of the strong interactions and are therefore an important ingredient in the search for new physics. In this review article the basic principles of effective field theories are described, and the most important effective field theories used in research are presented. Members of the MPI for Physics have made many contributions in the development and the application of effective field theories. more

Physics with B Mesons

2010 Kiesling, Christian
Searching for "New Physics" beyond the Standard Model is one of the main motivations for the new generation of particle accelerators, such as the Large Hadron Collider at CERN, or the future "B-factory" SuperKEKB in Japan. In particular, the matter-antimatter-asymmetry observed in the Universe ("CP-violation") is not correctly predicted by the Standard Model. For the experiments at SuperKEKB a novel, high-resolution particle track-detector is in development led by the Max Planck Institute for Physics. Such a detector is essential for the precise measurement of the CP-violation, and will start its measurements at SuperKEKB in 2014. more

Neutrinos and the search for new physics

2009 Antusch, Stefan
Particle Physics
The Standard Model of elementary particles describes all observed properties of elementary particles with impressive accuracy, with one exception: neutrino masses. Neutrino masses are the first clear evidence from particle physics that the Standard Model has to be extended. Neutrino oscillations are quantum processes which have led to the discovery of neutrino masses. In the future they can again provide surprising discoveries: Like a magnifying glass they can make further new Physics visible and thereby contribute to the search for the new Standard Model. more

Why We need new types of particle accelerators

2009 Caldwell, Allen
Particle Physics
Completely new technologies are needed to go beyond the energies of present day particle accelerators. Two new concepts are currently being worked out at the Max Planck Institute for Physics in Munich. The first of these concepts makes use of plasma wakefields. Plasmas can support extremely high electric fields, and would therefore allow for much more compact accelerators. The second possibility investigated is to accelerate muons, a heavier version of the electron. The muon combines the advantages of both electrons (point-like nature) and protons (heavy). more

Supersymmetric Candidates for Dark Matter

2008 Steffen, Frank Daniel
Astrophysics Particle Physics
The identity of dark matter is one of the greatest puzzles of our Universe. Its solution may be associated with supersymmetry which is a fundamental space-time symmetry that has not been verified experimentally so far. In many supersymmetric extensions of the Standard Model of particle physics, the lightest supersymmetric particle cannot decay and is hence a promising dark matter candidate. The lightest neutralino, which appears already in the minimal supersymmetric model, can be identified as such a candidate in indirect and direct dark matter searches and at future colliders. As the superpartner of the graviton, the gravitino is another candidate for the lightest superparticle that provides a compelling explanation of dark matter. While it will neither be detected in indirect or direct searches nor be produced directly at accelerators, the analysis of late-decaying charged particles can allow for an experimental identification of the gravitino at future accelerators. In this way, the upcoming experiments at the CERN Large Hadron Collider may become a key to the understanding of our Universe. more

The ATLAS experiment

2008 Andricek, L., Bangert, A., Barillari, T., Benekos, N., Beimforde, M., Bethke, S., Dedes, G., Dubbert, J., Ehrich, Th., Ghodbane, N., Giovannini, P., Göttfert, T., Groh, M., Härtel, R., Horvat, S., Jantsch. A., Kaiser, St., Kiryunin, A., Kluth, S.,; Kortner, O., Kotov, S., Kroha, H., Legger, F., Löben, J.v., Macchilo, A. Moordieck-Möck, S., Moser, H.-G., Menke, S., Nisius, R., Oberlack, H., D'Orazio, A., Patarai, S., Pospelov, G., Potrap, I., Rauter, E., Rebuzzi, D., Richter, R., Richter, R.H.,; Salihagic, D., Schacht, P., Schieck, J., von der Schmitt, H., Stonjek, S., Valderanis, Ch., Yuan, J. Zhuang, X., Zhuravlov, V.
Atlas is one of two general-purpose detectors designed to exploit the full discovery potential of proton-proton collisions at 14 TeV center-of-mass energy of the Large Hadron Collider at CERN/Geneva. High luminosity as well as high energy are the outstanding requirements to study rare processes. In consequence, the detector has to cope with rather difficult design goals. The origin of mass in the standard model, and thus the search for the Higgs boson, is the most prominent issue in particle physics. A major focus is also the super-symmetric extension of the standard model, manifested in a symmetry between fermions and bosons. The institute is involved in the design, construction and integration of major parts of the detector. With the start of data-taking foreseen for 2008, the preparation of the analysis program is an important focus in the ongoing activities of the institute. more

The GERDA Experiment to seach for neutrinoless double beta-decay

2007 Abt, I., Caldwell, A., Jelen, M., Lenz, D., Liu, J., Liu, X., Kröninger, K., Majorovits, B., Stelzer, F.
Particle Physics
The GERDA experiment will search for neutrinoless double beta-decay at LNGS (Laboratori Nazionali del Gran Sasso), Italy. The aim of the first phase is to scrutinize the positive claim of a part of the Heidelberg-Moscow collaboration after approximately one year of measurement. The second phase will further push the sensitivity to a neutrino mass of as low as 200 meV. A new 18-fold segmented true coaxial n-type germanium detector was developed in collaboration with Canberra-France. more

Gamma Astronomy with the MAGIC Telescope

2006 Bartko, H.; Bock, R. K.; Coarasa, J. A.; Garczarczyk, M.; Goebel, F.; Hayashida, M.; Hose, J.; Liebing, P.; Lorenz, E.; Majumdar, P.; Mase, K.; Mazin, D.; Mirzoyan, R.; Mizobuchi, S.; Otte, N.; Paneque, D.; Rudert, A.; Sawallisch, P.; Shinozaki, K.; Stipp, A.-L.; Teshima, M.; Tonello, N.; Wagner, R. M.; Wittek, W.
The MAGIC (Major Atmospheric Gamma-ray Imaging Cherenkov) telescope is a new imaging Cherenkov telescope on the Canary island La Palma. Its purpose is the ground-based detection of high energy cosmic gamma radiation. MAGIC aims to cover the unexplored part of the electromagnetic spectrum between 30 and 300 GeV. Important objects of observation are Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), supernova remnants, neutron stars and black holes. Further research topics are the nature of the mysterious gamma ray bursts and the search for dark matter particles. more

Computer methods in high-energy physics

2006 Hahn, Thomas
Particle Physics
Paper and pencil are no longer adequate for the prediction of measurements at high-energy colliders, such as the Large Hadron Collider currently under construction at CERN. These predictions are essential for testing the present theories of elementary particles, i.e. the fundamental laws of nature, yet their computation without automated steps is quite involved and error-prone. This article introduces the necessary computational methods and shows their implementation in a computer program on the example of the FeynArts, FormCalc, and LoopTools packages, which are being developed at the MPI. With the automation thus achieved, results can be obtained in minutes that were previously in the domain of man-years. more

Investigation of visible matter with HERA

2005 Caldwell, Allen; Grindhammer, Günther
Particle Physics
HERA, the world's first electron proton collider, has allowed scientists to look into the heart of matter with unprecedented resolution. Fascinating results have been obtained, such as the observation of a rapid increase in the number of virtual quarks, antiquarks, and gluons visible in scattering processes as the energy is increased. The HERA program has recently begun a new phase which promises a large increase in data and further exciting results. more

Strings and Brane Worlds: some Aspects of a Unified Theory of All Interactions

2005 Lüst, Dieter; Blumenhagen, Ralph; Erdmenger, Johanna
Particle Physics Quantum Physics
In this article we discuss some aspects of superstring theory. After a short introduction of string theory as unifying quantum theory of all interactions, we introduce the socalled brane world models. These models describe the universe as 3- or higher dimensional brane, embedded into the 9-dimensional space of string theory. They offer many interesting possibilities to derive the standard models of particle physics from string theory. more

Evidence for Quark Matter in High-Energy Collisions of Heavy Atomic Nuclei

2004 Eckardt, Volker; Putschke, Jörn; Schmitz, Norbert; Seyboth, Janet; Seyboth, Peter; Simon, Frank
Particle Physics
The energy and matter of the Universe, but also space and time themselves, have originated - according to the present Cosmological Standard Model - in a gigantic Big Bang some 14 billion years ago. Immediately after the Bang, the hadronic matter consisted of an extremely hot and dense gas of quasi-free quarks and gluons - the so called Quark Gluon Plasma - in a tiny space volume. Today, physicists are trying to artificially create and explore this unusual state of matter in high-energy collisions of heavy atomic nuclei with large particle accelerators. more

Electroweak Symmetry Breaking and Precision Tests

2004 Hollik, Wolfgang; Dittmaier, Stefan; Hahn, Thomas
Particle Physics Quantum Physics
One of the basic open questions of particle physics is the origin of mass. Experimentally and theoretically achieved insight into the structure of the fundamental building blocks of matter and their interactions are comprehensively summarized in the Standard Model of particle physics. In order to consistently merge the existence of massive particles with the basic symmetries of the Standard Model, a mechanism is needed for breaking the gauge symmetry of the electroweak interactions in a suitable way. In the Standard Model, this symmetry breaking is realized via the Higgs mechanism, which predicts the existence of an additional particle, the Higgs boson. Through quantum fluctuations, this as yet not directly detected particle influences observable quantities that can be measured precisely and hence allow an indirect determination of its features. Yet another symmetry, supersymmetry, unfies the description of matter and force particles within a common concept and predicts the existence of even more new particles, which also give rise to experimentally testable theoretical predictions in precision observables. more
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