Yearbook 2015

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The micronutrient selenium is an essential part of the human diet. As humans migrated out of Africa about 60,000 years ago they came to settle in environments with vastly differing selenium levels. Researchers of the Department of Evolutionary Genetics at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology have found evidence that human populations who live in regions that provide insufficient dietary selenium show signals of adaptation in the genes that use or regulate selenium. more
A team of researchers at the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology focuses on the many facets of small-scale trade in Vietnam today. Their work shows that markets form and transform in uneven ways through the interplay between global processes, local trajectories of economic and social development, and everyday interactions between traders, suppliers, customers, and public officials. more

The Archives of the Max Planck Society – a review of 2015

Archive of the Max Planck Society Starkloff, Kristina
The year 2015 saw major personnel changes which also led to a reduction in the average age of the archive staff. Half of the positions in the archive were newly filled (deputy archivist and archivist in the higher intermediate service), which turned out to be an opportunity to alter roles and update internal processes. more

First Surface map of a Brown Dwarf Shows Extraterrestrial Weather Patterns

Max Planck Institute for Astronomy Crossfield, Ian; Biller, Beth; Schlieder, Joshua; Deacon, Niall; Bonnefoy, Mickaël; Buenzli, Esther; Henning, Thomas; Brandner, Wolfgang; Goldman, Bertrand; Kopytova, Taisiy; Mancini, Luigi; Cicer, Simon; Bailer-Jones, Coryn A. L.
Astronomers have presented the first detailed study of the atmospheric features – the extraterrestrial wea ther patterns – of a brown dwarf (an intermediate object between planet and star). The results include the first surface map of a brown dwarf and measurements at different wavelengths probing its atmosphere at different depths. They mark the beginning of an era in which astronomers will be able to compare models for cloud formation on brown dwarfs – and, eventually, on giant gas planets in distant star systems – with observations. more

"CT Scan" of Distant Universe Reveals Cosmic Web in 3D

Max Planck Institute for Astronomy Lee, Khee-Gan; Hennawi, Joseph F.; Eilers, Anna-Christina
A team led by astronomers from the MPI for Astronomy has created the first three-dimensional map of the "adolescent" Universe, just 3 billion years after the Big Bang. Applying a new technique analogous to x-ray computer-tomographic (CT) imaging, the researchers measured the light from a dense grid of distant background galaxies probing the Universe from multiple locations, and then constructed a 3D map of the intervening matter. This map, millions of light years across, provides a tantalizing glimpse of large structures in the "cosmic web", which forms the backbone of cosmic structure. more
Latest three-dimensional computer simulations are closing in on the solution of an decades-old problem: how do massive stars die in gigantic supernova explosions? Since the mid-1960s, astronomers thought that neutrinos, elementary particles that are radiated in huge numbers by the newly formed neutron star, could be the ones to energize the blast wave that disrupts the star. However, only now the power of modern supercomputers has made it possible to actually demonstrate the viability of this neutrino-driven mechanism. more

Understanding X-ray emission from galaxies and galaxy clusters

Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics Anderson, Michael E.; Gaspari, Massimo; White, Simon D. M.; Wang, Wenting; Dai, Xinyu
By combining data for more than 250,000 individual objects, an MPA-based team has for the first time been able to measure X-ray emission in a uniform manner for objects with masses ranging from that of the Milky Way up to that of rich galaxy clusters. The results are surprisingly simple and give insight into how ordinary matter is distributed in today's universe, and how this distribution has been affected by energy input from galactic nuclei. more
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