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Garching, Germany

The Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics is a research institute located in Garching, just north of Munich, Bavaria, Germany. It is one of many scientific research institutes belonging to the Max Planck Society.The MPA is widely considered to be one of the leading institutions in the world for theoretical astrophysics research.According to Thomson Reuters, from 1999-2009 the Max Planck Society as a whole published more papers and accumulated more citations in the fields of physics and space science than any other research organization in the world. Wikipedia.

Kauffmann G.,Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2014

We have used 4000 Å break and HδA indices in combination with SFR/M* derived from emission line flux measurements to constrain the recent star formation histories of galaxies with stellar masses in the range 108-1010M⊙. The fraction of the total SFR density in galaxies with ongoing bursts is a strong function of stellar mass, declining from 0.85 at a stellar mass of 108M⊙ to 0.25 for galaxies with M* ~ 1010M⊙. Low-mass galaxies are not all young. The distribution of half-mass formation times for galaxies with stellar masses less than 109M⊙ is broad, spanning the range 1-10 Gyr. The peak-to-trough variation in star formation rate among the bursting population ranges lies in the range 10-25. In low-mass galaxies, the average duration of the bursts is comparable to the dynamical time of the galaxy. Galaxy structure is correlated with estimated burst mass fraction, but in different ways in low-and high-mass galaxies. High-mass galaxies with large burst mass fractions are more centrally concentrated, indicating that bulge formation is at work. In low-mass galaxies, stellar surface densities μ* decrease as a function of Fburst. These results are in good agreement with the observational predictions of Teyssier et al. and lend further credence to the idea that the cuspy halo problem can be solved by energy input from multiple starbursts over the lifetime of the galaxy. We note that there is no compelling evidence for initial mass function variations in the population of star-forming galaxies in the local Universe. © 2014 The Author. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Tanaka T.L.,Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2013

I discuss the possibility that accreting supermassive black hole (SMBH) binaries with subparsec separations produce periodically recurring luminous outbursts that interrupt periods of relative quiescence. This hypothesis is motivated by two characteristics found generically in simulations of binaries embedded in prograde accretion discs: (i) the formation of a central, low-density cavity around the binary and (ii) the leakage of gas into this cavity, occurring once per orbit via discrete streams on nearly radial trajectories. The first feature would reduce the emergent optical/UV flux of the system relative to active galactic nuclei powered by a single SMBH, while the second can trigger quasi-periodic fluctuations in luminosity. I argue that the quasi-periodic accretion signature may be much more dramatic than previously thought, because the infalling gas streams can strongly shock-heat via self-collision and tidal compression, thereby enhancing viscous accretion. Any optically thick gas that is circularized about either SMBH can accrete before the next pair of streams is deposited, fuelling transient, luminous flares that recur every orbit. Due to the diminished flux in between accretion episodes, such cavity-accretion flares could plausibly be mistaken for the tidal disruptions of stars in quiescent nuclei. The flares could be distinguished from tidal disruption events if their quasi-periodic recurrence is observed, or if they are produced by very massive ({similar or greater-than}109M⊙) SMBHs that cannot disrupt solar-type stars. They may be discovered serendipitously in surveys such as LSST or eROSITA. I present a heuristic toy model as a proof of concept for the production of cavity-accretion flares, and generate mock light curves and spectra. I also apply the model to the active galaxy OJ 287, whose production of quasi-periodic pairs of optical flares has long fuelled speculation that it hosts an SMBH binary. © 2013 The Authors. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the Royal Astronomical Society.

Kruijssen J.M.D.,Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society | Year: 2012

We present a theoretical framework in which bound stellar clusters arise naturally at the high-density end of the hierarchy of the interstellar medium (ISM). Due to short free-fall times, these high-density regions achieve high local star formation efficiencies, enabling them to form bound clusters. Star-forming regions of lower density remain substructured and gas-rich, ending up unbound when the residual gas is expelled. Additionally, the tidal perturbation of star-forming regions by nearby, dense giant molecular clouds imposes a minimum density contrast required for the collapse to a bound cluster. The fraction of all star formation that occurs in bound stellar clusters (the cluster formation efficiency, hereafter CFE) follows by integration of these local clustering and survival properties over the full density spectrum of the ISM, and hence is set by galaxy-scale physics. We derive the CFE as a function of observable galaxy properties, and find that it increases with the gas surface density, from Γ ∼ 1 per cent in low-density galaxies to a peak value of Γ ∼ 70 per cent at densities of Σ g ∼ 10 3M ⊙pc -2. This explains the observation that the CFE increases with the star formation rate density in nearby dwarf, spiral and starburst galaxies. Indeed, comparing our model results with observed galaxies yields excellent agreement. The model is applied further by calculating the spatial variation of the CFE within single galaxies. We also consider the variation of the CFE with cosmic time and show that it increases with redshift, peaking in high-redshift, gas-rich disc galaxies. It is estimated that up to 30-35 per cent of all stars in the Universe once formed in bound stellar clusters. We discuss how our theory can be verified with Gaia and ALMA, and provide possible implementations for theoretical work and for simulations of galaxy formation and evolution. © 2012 The Author Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society © 2012 RAS.

Dunkel J.,Massachusetts Institute of Technology | Hilbert S.,Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
Nature Physics | Year: 2013

Over the past 60 years, a considerable number of theories and experiments have claimed the existence of negative absolute temperature in spin systems and ultracold quantum gases. This has led to speculation that ultracold gases may be dark-energy analogues and also suggests the feasibility of heat engines with efficiencies larger than one. Here, we prove that all previous negative temperature claims and their implications are invalid as they arise from the use of an entropy definition that is inconsistent both mathematically and thermodynamically. We show that the underlying conceptual deficiencies can be overcome if one adopts a microcanonical entropy functional originally derived by Gibbs. The resulting thermodynamic framework is self-consistent and implies that absolute temperature remains positive even for systems with a bounded spectrum. In addition, we propose a minimal quantum thermometer that can be implemented with available experimental techniques. © 2014 Macmillan Publishers Limited. All rights reserved.

Diederik Kruijssen J.M.,Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics
Classical and Quantum Gravity | Year: 2014

The formation of globular clusters (GCs) remains one of the main unsolved problems in star and galaxy formation. The past decades have seen important progress in constraining the physics of GC formation from a variety of directions. In this article, we discuss the latest constraints obtained from studies of present-day GC populations, the formation of young massive clusters (YMCs) in the local Universe, and the observed, large-scale conditions for star and cluster formation in high-redshift galaxies. The main conclusion is that the formation of massive, GC progenitor clusters is restricted to high-pressure environments similar to those observed at high redshift and at the sites of YMC formation in the local Universe. However, the correspondingly high gas densities also lead to efficient cluster disruption by impulsive tidal shocks, which limits the survival of GCs progenitor clusters. As a result, the long-term survival of GC progenitor clusters requires them to migrate into the host galaxy halo on a short time-scale. It is proposed that the necessary cluster migration is facilitated by the frequent galaxy mergers occurring at high redshift. We use the available observational and theoretical constraints to condense the current state of the field into a coherent picture of GC formation, in which regular star and cluster formation in high-redshift galaxies naturally leads to the GC populations observed today. © 2014 IOP Publishing Ltd.

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