Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam

Potsdam, Germany

Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam is a German research institute. It is the successor of the Berlin Observatory founded in 1700 and of the Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam founded in 1874. The latter was the world's first observatory to emphasize explicitly the research area of astrophysics. The AIP was founded in 1992, in a re-structuring following the German Reunification.The AIP is privately funded and member of the Leibniz Association. It is located in Babelsberg in the state of Brandenburg, just west of Berlin, though the Einstein Tower solar observatory and the great refractor telescope on Telegrafenberg in Potsdam belong to the AIP. The key topics of the AIP are cosmic magnetic fields on various scales and extragalactic astrophysics. Astronomical and astrophysical fields studied at the AIP range from solar and stellar physics to stellar and galactic evolution to cosmology. The institute also develops research technology in the fields of spectroscopy and robotic telescopes. It is a partner of the Large Binocular Telescope in Arizona, has erected robotic telescopes in Tenerife and the Antarctic, develops astronomical instrumentation for large telescopes such as the VLT of the ESO. Furthermore, work on several e-Science projects are carried out at the AIP. Wikipedia.

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Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2012-1.1.25. | Award Amount: 10.98M | Year: 2013

Optical-infrared astronomy in Europe is in a state of transition and opportunity, with the goal of a viable structured European scale community in sight. A strong astronomical community requires access to state of the art infrastructures (telescopes), equipped with the best possible instrumentation, and with that access being open to all on a basis of competitive excellence. Further, the community needs training in optimal use of those facilities to be available to all, Critically, it needs a viable operational model, with long-term support from the national agencies, to operate those infrastructures. The most important need for most astronomers is to have open access to a viable set of medium aperture telescopes, with excellent facilities, complemented by superb instrumentation on the extant large telescopes, while working towards next generation instrumentation on the future flagship, the European Extremely Large Telescope. OPTICON has made a substantial contribution to preparing the realisation of that ambition. OPTICON supported R&D has, and is developing critical next-generation technology, to enhance future instrumentation on all telescopes. The big immediate challenge is to retain a viable set of well-equipped medium aperture telescopes. The present project is to make the proof of principle that such a situation is possible - a situation developed by OPTICON under its previous contracts, in collaboration with the EC supported strategy network ASTRONET - and set the stage for the step to full implementation.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: RIA | Phase: INFRAIA-01-2016-2017 | Award Amount: 10.01M | Year: 2017

Europe has become a global leader in optical-near infrared astronomy through excellence in space and ground-based experimental and theoretical research. While the major infrastructures are delivered through major national and multi-national agencies (ESO, ESA) their continuing scientific competitiveness requires a strong community of scientists and technologists distributed across Europes nations. OPTICON has a proven record supporting European astrophysical excellence through development of new technologies, through training of new people, through delivering open access to the best infrastructures, and through strategic planning for future requirements in technology, innovative research methodologies, and trans-national coordination. Europes scientific excellence depends on continuing effort developing and supporting the distributed expertise across Europe - this is essential to develop and implement new technologies and ensure instrumentation and infrastructures remain cutting edge. Excellence depends on continuing effort to strengthen and broaden the community, through networking initiatives to include and then consolidate European communities with more limited science expertise. Excellence builds on training actions to qualify scientists from European communities which lack national access to state of the art research infrastructures to compete successfully for use of the best available facilities. Excellence depends on access programmes which enable all European scientists to access the best infrastructures needs-blind, purely on competitive merit. Global competitiveness and the future of the community require early planning of long-term sustainability, awareness of potentially disruptive technologies, and new approaches to the use of national-scale infrastructures under remote or robotic control. OPTICON will continue to promote this excellence, global competitiveness and long-term strategic planning.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INFRADEV-02-2016 | Award Amount: 9.05M | Year: 2017

The European Solar Telescope (EST) will be a revolutionary Research Infrastructure that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern Solar Physics. This 4-meter class solar telescope, to be located in the Canary Islands, will provide solar physicists with the most advanced state-of-the-art observing tools to transform our understanding of the complex phenomena that drive the solar magnetic activity. The principal objective of the present Preparatory Phase is to provide both the EST international consortium and the funding agencies with a detailed plan regarding the implementation of EST. The specific objectives of the proposed preparatory phase are: (1) to explore possible legal frameworks and related governance schemes that can be used by agencies to jointly establish, construct and operate EST as a new research infrastructure, with the implementation of an intermediate temporary organisational structure, as a previous step for future phases of the project; (2) to explore funding schemes and funding sources for EST, including a proposal of financial models to make possible the combination of direct financial and in-kind contributions towards the construction and operation of EST; (3) to compare the two possible sites for EST in the Canary Islands Astronomical Observatories and prepare final site agreements; (4) to engage funding agencies and policy makers for a long-term commitment which guarantees the construction and operation phases of the Telescope; (5) to involve industry in the design of EST key elements to the required level of definition and validation for their final production; (6) to enhance and intensify outreach activities and strategic links with national agencies and the user communities of EST. To accomplish the aforementioned goals, this 4-year project, promoted by the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST) and the PRE-EST consortium, encompassing 23 research institutions from 16 countries, will set up the Project Office

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2012-1.1.26. | Award Amount: 8.20M | Year: 2013

This project aims at integrating the major European infrastructures in the field of high-resolution solar physics. The following actions will be taken: (i) realise Trans-national Access to external European users; (ii) enhance and spread data acquisition and processing expertise to the Europe-wide community; (iii) increase the impact of high-resolution data by offering science-ready data and facilitating their retrieval and usage; (iv) encourage combination of space and ground-based data by providing unified access to pertinent data repositories; (v) foster synergies between different research communities by organising meetings where each presents state-of-the-art methodologies; (vi) train a new generation of solar researchers through setting up schools and an ambitious mobility programme; (vii) develop prototypes for new-generation post-focus instruments; (vii) study local and non-local atmospheric turbulence, their impact on image quality, and ways to negate their effects; (viii) improve the performance of existing telescopes; (ix) improve designs of future large European ground-and space-based solar telescopes; (x) lay foundations for combined use of facilities around the world and in space; (xi) reinforce partnership with industry to promote technology transfer through existing networks; and (xii) dissemination activities towards society. The project involves all pertinent European research institutions, infrastructures, and data repositories. Together, these represent first-class facilities. The additional participation by private companies and non-European research institutions maximizes the impact on the world-wide scale. In particular, the project achievements will be of principal importance in defining the exploitation of the future 4-meter European Solar Telescope.

Scholz R.-D.,Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2014

Aims. Using Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE) data and previous optical and near-infrared sky surveys, we try to identify still missing stellar and substellar neighbours of the Sun. Methods. When checking the brightest red WISE sources for proper motions and colours expected for nearby M and L dwarfs, we also approached the thin Galactic plane. Astrometry (proper motion and parallax measurements) and the available photometry were used to obtain first estimates of the distance and type of nearby candidates. Results. We have discovered WISE J072003.20-084651.2, an object with moderately high proper motion (μ ≈ 120 mas/yr) that lies at low Galactic latitude (b = +2.3), with similar brightness (J ≈ 10.6, w2 ≈ 8.9) and colours (I-J ≈ 3.2, J-Ks ≈ 1.2, w1-w2 ≈ 0.3) as the nearest known M-type brown dwarf LP 944-20. With a photometric classification as an M9 ± 1 dwarf, its photometric distance lies in the range between about 5 and 7 pc, based on comparison with absolute magnitudes of LP 944-20 alone or of a sample of M8-L0 dwarfs. The slightly larger distance derived from our preliminary trigonometric parallax (7.0 ± 1.9 pc) may indicate a close binary nature. The new neighbour is an excellent target for planet search and low-mass star/brown dwarf studies. © 2014 ESO.

Heller R.,Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2012

Context. Detecting massive satellites that orbit extrasolar planets has now become feasible, which led naturally to questions about the habitability of exomoons. In a previous study we presented constraints on the habitability of moons from stellar and planetary illumination as well as from tidal heating. Aims. Here I refine our model by including the effect of eclipses on the orbit-averaged illumination. I then apply an analytic approximation for the Hill stability of a satellite to identify the range of stellar and planetary masses in which moons can be habitable. Moons in low-mass stellar systems must orbit their planet very closely to remain bounded, which puts them at risk of strong tidal heating. Methods. I first describe the effect of eclipses on the stellar illumination of satellites. Then I calculate the orbit-averaged energy flux, which includes illumination from the planet and tidal heating to parametrize exomoon habitability as a function of stellar mass, planetary mass, and planet-moon orbital eccentricity. The habitability limit is defined by a scaling relation at which a moon loses its water by the runaway greenhouse process. As a working hypothesis, orbital stability is assumed if the moon's orbital period is less than 1/9 of the planet's orbital period. Results. Due to eclipses, a satellite in a close orbit can experience a reduction in orbit-averaged stellar flux by up to about 6%. The smaller the semi-major axis and the lower the inclination of the moon's orbit, the stronger the reduction. I find a lower mass limit of ≈ 0.2 M for exomoon host stars that allows a moon to receive an orbit-averaged stellar flux comparable to the Earth's, with which it can also avoid the runaway greenhouse effect. Precise estimates depend on the satellite's orbital eccentricity. Deleterious effects on exomoon habitability may occur up to ≈ 0.5 M if the satellite's eccentricity is ≥ 0.05. Conclusions. Although the traditional habitable zone lies close to low-mass stars, which allows for many transits of planet-moon binaries within a given observation cycle, resources should not be spent to trace habitable satellites around them. Gravitational perturbations by the close star, another planet, or another satellite induce eccentricities that likely make any moon uninhabitable. Estimates for individual systems require dynamical simulations that include perturbations among all bodies and tidal heating in the satellite. © 2012 ESO.

Scholz R.-D.,Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam
Astronomy and Astrophysics | Year: 2010

Aims: New near-infrared large-area sky surveys (e.g. UKIDSS, CFBDS, WISE) go deeper than 2MASS and aim at detecting brown dwarfs lurking in the solar neighbourhood that are even fainter than the latest known T-type objects, so-called Y dwarfs. Methods: Using UKIDSS data, we found a faint brown dwarf candidate with very red optical-to-near-infrared, but extremely blue near-infrared colours next to the recently discovered nearby L dwarf SDSS J141624.08+134826.7. We checked if the two objects are co-moving by studying their parallactic and proper motion and compared the new object with known T dwarfs. Results: The astrometric measurements are consistent with a physical pair (sep ≈ 75 AU) at a distance d ≈ 8 pc. The extreme colour (J - K ≈ -1.7) and absolute magnitude (MJ = 17.78± 0.46 and M K = 19.45± 0.52) make the new object appear as one of the coolest (Teff ≈ 600 K) and nearest brown dwarfs, probably of late-T spectral type and possibly with a high surface gravity (logg ≈ 5.0). © 2010 ESO.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: ERC-COG | Phase: ERC-CoG-2015 | Award Amount: 1.99M | Year: 2016

The Magellanic Clouds are the nearest gas-rich dwarf satellites of the Milky Way and illustrate a typical example of an early phase of a minor merger event, the collision of galaxies that differ in mass by at least a factor of ten. In spite of their important role in supplementing material to the Milky Way halo and the numerous investigations made in the last decade, there remain several uncertainties. Their origin is still a matter of debate, their satellite status is unclear, their mass is uncertain, their gravitational centres are undefined, their structure depends strongly on stellar populations and is severely shaped by interactions, their orbital history is only vaguely associated to star forming events, and their chemical history rests upon limited data. This proposal aims to remedy this lack of knowledge by providing a comprehensive analysis of the stellar content of the Magellanic Clouds and dissect the substructures that are related to their accretion history and the interaction with the Milky Way. Their internal kinematics and orbital history, establishing their bound/unbound status, will be resolved thanks to the analysis of state-of-the art proper motions from the VMC survey and the Gaia mission, and the development of sophisticated theoretical models. Multi-wavelength photometric observations from ongoing large-scale projects will be analysed together to characterise the stellar population of the Magellanic Clouds as has never been previously attempted, including the effects of separate structural components. New large-scale spectroscopic survey projects in preparation will resolve metallicity dependencies and complete the full six-phase space information (distance, position, and motion). This proposal will have a tremendous impact on our understanding of the consequences of minor mergers, and will offer a firm perspective of the Magellanic Clouds.

Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2012.2.1-01 | Award Amount: 2.23M | Year: 2013

ARCHES will focus on the X-ray survey catalogue data from the XMM-Newton mission. New tools will be developed for cross-correlation with extensive archival resources, producing well-characterised multi-wavelength data in the form of spectral energy distributions for large sets of objects. These enhanced resources will significantly broaden the effective exploitation of the data by the scientific community in the exploration of a wide range of forefront astrophysical questions.

Kitaura F.-S.,Leibniz Institute for Astrophysics Potsdam
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society: Letters | Year: 2013

I present a new approach to recover the primordial density fluctuations and the cosmic web structure underlying a galaxy distribution. The method is based on sampling Gaussian fields which are compatible with a galaxy distribution and a structure formation model. This is achieved by splitting the inversion problem into two Gibbs-sampling steps: the first being a Gaussianization step transforming a distribution of point sources at Lagrangian positions-which are not a priori given-into a linear alias-free Gaussian field. This step is based on Hamiltonian sampling with a Gaussian-Poisson model. The second step consists on a likelihood comparison in which the set of matter tracers at the initial conditions is constrained on the galaxy distribution and the assumed structure formation model. For computational reasons second-order Lagrangian perturbation theory is used. However, the presented approach is flexible to adopt any structure formation model. A semi-analytic halo-model-based galaxy mock catalogue is taken to demonstrate that the recovered initial conditions are closely unbiased with respect to the actual ones from the corresponding N-body simulation down to scales of a ~5 Mpc h-1. The cross-correlation between them shows a substantial gain of information, being at k ~ 0.3 h Mpc-1 more than doubled. In addition the initial conditions are extremely well Gaussian distributed and the power spectra follow the shape of the linear power spectrum being very close to the actual one from the simulation down to scales of k ~ 1 h Mpc-1. © 2012 The Author Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

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