Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics

Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics

Since its foundation in 1995, the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute, AEI) in Potsdam-Golm has established itself as a leading international research center. Its research program covers the entire spectrum of gravitational physics: from the giant dimensions of the Universe to the tiny scales of strings. The AEI is the only institute in the world that brings together all of these key research fields. AEI scientists investigate the mathematical foundations of Einstein's theory of space-time and gravitation. Others work towards the unification of both fundamental theories of physics – general relativity and quantum mechanics – into a theory of quantum gravity. Other scientists do research on gravitational waves, neutron stars, black holes, the two-body problem in general relativity, and the analytical and numerical solutions of Einstein's equations. They are thus contributing to a new era of astronomy, which began on September 14, 2015 with the first direct detection of gravitational waves on Earth by LIGO.

Central research topics of the other AEI branch in Hannover are the development and implementation of data analysis algorithms for a variety of gravitational wave sources as well as work on gravitational wave detectors.


Am Mühlenberg 1
14476 Potsdam-Golm
Phone: +49 331 567-70
Fax: +49 331 567-7298

PhD opportunities

This institute has several International Max Planck Research Schools (IMPRS):
IMPRS on Gravitational Wave Astronomy
IMPRS for Mathematical and Physical Aspects of Gravitation, Cosmology and Quantum Field Theory

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

Department Astrophysical and Cosmological Relativity more
Department Quantum gravity and Unified Theories more
Department Computational Relativistic Astrophysics more
Gravitational waves from merging neutron stars
This cosmic event was also observed in visible light and provides an explanation for gamma-ray bursts more
<p>Nobel Prize awarded to gravitational wave researchers</p>
Congratulations from the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam and Hannover, and the Leibniz Universität Hannover more
“The first unequivocal indication of the inflation of the universe”
Interview with Max Planck Director Karsten Danzmann on the indirect observation of gravitational waves from the birth of our universe more
Quantum steps towards the Big Bang
A new approach to the unification of general theory of relativity and quantum theory more
What is behind Einstein’s turbulence?
Numerical calculations by scientists at the AEI give an initial insight into the relativistic properties of this mysterious process more

It’s the question of all scientific questions: How did the universe come into being? Jean-Luc Lehners at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Potsdam-Golm is addressing the question using state-of-the-art mathematical tools. In the process, he is also investigating the possibility that there was a precursor universe.

Black holes are a permanent fixture in science fiction literature. In reality, there is hardly a more extreme location in the universe. These mass monsters swallow everything that ventures too close to them: light, gas, dust and even entire stars. It sounds quite simple, but the nature of black holes is complex. Maria Rodriguez, Minerva Group Leader at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Golm, wants to solve some of the puzzles these exotic cosmic bodies present.

Albert Einstein was right: gravitational waves really do exist. They were detected on September 14, 2015. This, on the other hand, would have surprised Einstein, as he believed they were too weak to ever be measured. The researchers were therefore all the more delighted - particularly those at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics, which played a major role in the discovery.

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.
The properties of one particle can determine those of another even though the two are miles apart and don’t exchange any information. What appears to be a spooky phenomenon is what physicists call entanglement, and they have already observed it in small particles. Now Roman Schnabel, a professor at Leibniz University Hannover and at the nearby Max Planck institute for Gravitational Physics (Albert Einstein Institute), aims to entangle two heavy mirrors.
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The first observation of gravitational waves from merging neutron stars

2018 Dietrich, Tim
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics
Over 100 years after the formulation of the theory of general relativity by Albert Einstein and more than 30 years after the first discovery of a binary neutron star system, the gravitational wave signal of colliding neutron stars has been detected for the first time. more

Quantum gravity and unification

2017 Nicolai, Hermann
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Plasma Physics Quantum Physics
General relativity theory and the standard model of particle physics describe physical phenomena correctly over a vast range of distances and are nevertheless incomplete. In order to understand what is happening inside a black hole or at the Big Bang, a new unified theory is sought which contains the standard model and the theory of gravitation as limiting cases, but whose mathematical contradictions are overcome. Maybe reflections on symmetry can help here. more

Stable or not stable? A spacetime on the test bench

2016 Maliborski, Maciej; Schell, Christian
Astronomy Astrophysics Particle Physics Quantum Physics
The stability of solutions to Einstein’s equations is essential for the physical interpretation. However, its investigations are mathematically challenging. The Anti-de Sitter space (AdS) is a frequently used solution in theoretical physics, even though only recently insights about its stability were achieved. This article reviews the current state of research concerning that question, in particular the coexistence of stable and instable regimes. more
Short gamma-ray bursts are highly energetic flashes of gamma rays lasting less than two seconds. They are most likely produced by the merger of two neutron stars in a binary system and are among the most dramatic events observed in the Universe. Despite decades of scientific progress the detailed physical processes that generate these bursts still remain elusive. Recent numerical simulations on supercomputers, however, play a vital role in unraveling the nature of these bursts. more

10+16 dimensional superspace as a building kit for scattering amplitudes

2015 Schlotterer, Oliver
Mathematics Particle Physics Quantum Physics
Scattering amplitudes describe the interactions of elementary particles and form the foundations to predict the results of measurements. They exhibit significantly richer mathematical structures and symmetries as the conventional Feynman-diagram prescription for their computation gives rise to expect. In the subsequent, a formalism with additional symmetries and spatial dimensions is introduced which manifests the hidden elegance of scattering amplitudes and allows for an intuitive approach. more
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