Siegel der Universität

Universität zu Köln
Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
Fachgruppe Physik

I. Physikalisches Institut

The Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope, CCAT-prime

CCAT-prime will be a 6-meter diameter, 10 micron precision surface telescope operating at submillimeter to millimeter wavelengths and sited at 5600 meters elevation on Cerro Chajnantor in the Atacama desert of northern Chile.

The novel crossed-Dragone optical design will deliver a high-throughput wide-field-of-view telescope capable of illuminating >105 (sub)millimeter wavelength detectors so that large areas of the sky can be scanned rapidly. The high altitude, dry site offers superb observing conditions, yielding routine access to the 350 micron atmospheric window as well as improved performance at longer wavelengths. Under the best conditions, observations in the 200 micron window will be possible. Deployment of CCAT-prime on Cerro Chajnantor will provide operational experience at high altitude, reducing risk for the future construction of a 25-meter class submillimeter telescope.

CCAT-prime will be ideally suited, due to its low error beam and large field of view, to probe tracers of the ISM and cloud/star formation over a range of environments in the Milky Way, the Magellanic Clouds and other nearby galaxies. Spectral large-scale imaging with CHAI (a high spectral resolution heterodyne array receiver being built at the Universität zu Köln, see below) of fine structure and mid- to high-excitation CO lines will serve as diagnostics of physical processes associated with star formation over large spatial scales.

The telescope is being designed and built by VERTEX Antennentechnik GmbH. The construction phase will start in 2017 and is expected to lead to first light in 2021.

Further information:

Official press release of Cornell University.

Official press release of Universität zu Köln and Universität Bonn.


Klaus Liebrecht price 2014

(Bild: © Patric Foud)

Marc Peter Westig received the Klaus Liebrecht dissertation price of the Faculty of Mathematics and Natural sciences of the University of Cologne for the year 2014. In his PhD thesis with the title "Quantum limited balanced superconducting 380-520 GHz mixer on a silicon membrane and mesoscopic tunnel devices for terahertz frequencies", he worked on new detector circuits for astronomical applications and on device physics aspects of superconductors out of thermal equilibrium. Key results of his thesis include the experimental proof of the first on-chip superconducting balanced mixer at 500 GHz with quantum limited performance and a new hybrid SIS junction technology, suitable for terahertz frequencies.

(fsc 2015-02-12)

Astrochemical Dating of a Stellar Nursery

An international research team led by scientists from the Coordinated Research Center (CRC) 956 “Conditions and Impact of Star Formation” at the University of Cologne has used observations made with the GREAT instrument on board the SOFIA aircraft observatory and the APEX telescope to date the core of an interstellar cloud that is forming a group of Sun-like stars. This work, to which scientists from the University of Helsinki as well as from the Max-Planck-Institutes for Radio Astronomy (MPIfR) and Extraterrestrial Physics (MPE) contributed, is published in this week’s Nature journal.

More information can be found in the Press Release (in German) of the Universität zu Köln.

Scientific Publication: “H2D+ observations give an age of at least one million years for a cloud core forming Sun-like stars”, Nature (2014)
by Sandra Brünken, Olli Sipilä, Edward T. Chambers, Jorma Harju, Paola Caselli, Oskar Asvany, Cornelia E. Honingh, Tomasz Kamiński, Karl M. Menten, Jürgen Stutzki, Stephan Schlemmer

Further Informations:

MPIfR:The Age of Stellar Nurseries
MPE: Astrochemical Dating of a Stellar Nursery
DSI: SOFIA Observations Help Determine the Age of a Star Nursery
DLR: Age of star nursery precisely determined for the first time
Science News: Young suns took at least 900,000 years to arise
Further figures:

Das Alter von stellaren Kinderstuben

Astrochemische Altersbestimmung durch Moleküllinienbeobachtungen mit SOFIA und APEX

Ein internationales Forscherteam unter der Leitung von Wissenschaftlern des Sonderforschungsbereichs 956 „Bedingungen und Auswirkungen der Sternentstehung“ an der Universität zu Köln hat Beobachtungsdaten vom GREAT-Empfänger an Bord des Flugzeug-Observatoriums SOFIA sowie vom APEX-Teleskop in Chile dazu verwendet, das Alter eines Sternentstehungsgebiets in einer interstellaren Wolke genau zu bestimmen. Im Zentrum der Wolke entsteht eine Gruppe von sonnenähnlichen Sternen. Das Resultat, zu dem auch Wissenschaftler von der Universität Helsinki sowie der beiden Max-Planck-Institute für Radioastronomie (Bonn) und für extraterrestrische Physik (Garching) beigetragen haben, wird in der aktuellen Ausgabe der Zeitschrift „Nature“ veröffentlicht.

Mehr Informationen in der Pressemitteilung der Universität zu Köln.

Wissenschaftlicher Artikel: “H2D+ observations give an age of at least one million years for a cloud core forming Sun-like stars”, Nature (2014)
von Sandra Brünken, Olli Sipilä, Edward T. Chambers, Jorma Harju, Paola Caselli, Oskar Asvany, Cornelia E. Honingh, Tomasz Kamiński, Karl M. Menten, Jürgen Stutzki, Stephan Schlemmer

Weitere Informationen:

MPIfR:Das Alter von stellaren Kinderstuben
MPE: Das Alter von stellaren Kinderstuben
DSI: SOFIA hilft bei der Altersbestimmung von stellaren Kinderstuben
DLR: Wie lange dauert die Geburt eines Sterns?
Weitere Bilder:

(sbr 17-11-2014)

Gibt es Leben auf dem Mars?

Dieser Frage geht Guido Sonnabend am Montag, 22.10.2012, 20h, im Bonner Pantheon Theater als Teilnehmer des "3. Bonner Science Slams" nach. Fanclub Unterstützung ist gern gesehen. Weitere Informationen finden sich hier.

Grünes Licht für CCAT

Deutsche Finanzierung für CCAT ist nun gesichert. Universitäten Bonn und Köln entwickeln Teleskopspiegel.

Staub- und Gaswolken sind die „Zutaten“, aus denen Sterne entstehen. Nordamerikanische Forscher wollen unter Beteiligung der Universitäten Köln und Bonn mit einem neuartigen Teleskop diese Sternentstehungsgebiete in bisher unerreichter Empfindlichkeit kartieren und durch Beobachtung entfernter Galaxien in die Frühphase des Universums vordringen. Die Finanzierungszusage für die deutsche Beteiligung liegt nun vor. Voraussichtlich im Jahr 2017 soll das Cerro Chajnantor Atacama Telescope (CCAT) in Chile die Arbeit aufnehmen. Es ist dann das höchst gelegene Teleskop der Erde. 

Weitere Presseinformationen der Uni-Köln.
(FRS 2011-11-26)

Venus Weather Not Boring After All, NASA/International Study Shows

THIS team and NASA GSFC collaborators reveal interesting details about the Venus mesosphere. "The mesosphere and thermosphere of Venus are dynamically active," said lead author Dr. Guido Sonnabend of the University of Cologne, Germany. "Wind patterns resulting from solar heating and east to west zonal winds compete, possibly resulting in altered local temperatures and their variability over time." The teams measured temperature and wind speeds in Venus' upper atmosphere by observing an infrared glow emitted by carbon dioxide (CO2) molecules when they were energized by light from the sun. The width of the line revealed the temperature, while shifts in its frequency gave the wind speed.

The researchers compared observations from 1990 and 1991 using Goddard's Infrared Heterodyne Spectrometer instrument at NASA's Infrared Telescope Facility on Mauna Kea, Hawaii, to observations from 2009 using the Cologne Tunable Heterodyne Infrared Spectrometer instrument at the National Optical Astronomy Observatory's McMath Telescope at Kitt Peak, Ariz.

Full NASA press release can be found here.


Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory is ready to launch from Antarctica

STO Team August 2011 at the CSBF in Palestine, Texas

The Stratospheric Terahertz Observatory (STO) underwent the NASA flight readyness review process at the Columbia Scientific Balloon Facility in Palestine, Texas. With this milestone three years of work have been concluded and the first science launch is targeted for December 2011 near the McMurdo Station in Antarctica. During the critical integration phase in the last few months Dipl.-Phys. Michael Brasse and Dr. Patrick Pütz joined the team of PI Chris Walker (University of Arizona, USA) for receiver integration and system testing.

STO is a balloon-borne observatory with a 0.8 m diameter primary and employs a heterodyne THz array receiver using superconducting mixer focal plane units. Four pixels each will be used for high-resolution spectroscopy of the 1.46 THz N+ and 1.90 THz C+ fine structure transitions. The 1. Physikalisches Institut contributes the 1.90 THz superconducting hot electron bolometer mixers, receiver optics and knowhow for THz receiver integration and testing.

More information can be found here and here (external link).

(PPÜ 2011-09-26)


Special mention from Europlanet Public Outreach Prize committee

The planetary science group at the I. Physikalische Institut in cooperation with the Junioruni program of the University of Cologne and the Odysseum received a special mention for their outreach activities for 13-15 year old kids from the "2011 Europlanet Prize for Public Engagement with Planetary Science" committee.

The committee stated that "Manuela Sornig and the group at the I.Physikalisches Institut at the University of Cologne are models for scientists wanting to develop public engagement programmes.  Their efforts to engage with networks of outreach providers, together with their success in targetting the hard-to-reach 13-15 year old audience, should be highly commended as examples of best practice ."

More information can be found here.