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
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.
No job offers available

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.

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