Max Planck Institute for Astronomy (MPIA)

Links: MPIA


Max-Planck-Institute for Astronomy

Königstuhl 17

69117 Heidelberg

Tel.: +49 (0)6221 528-0



Dr. Cornelis P. Dullemond

Scientific Coordinator:

Dr. Klaus Jäger jaegermpiade


The MPIA in Heidelberg is one of about 80 institutes of the Max Planck Society. Together with the Center for Astronomy at the University (ZAH) and the Department of Astro- and Particle Physics at the Max Planck Institute for Nuclear Physics, it constitutes a worldwide renowned center of astronomical research in Heidelberg.

The Institute is dealing with current scientific questions, the preparation and analysis of astronomical observations, and the development of new measuring methods. From 1973 to 1984, it pursued together with Spanish authorities the establishment of the German-Spanish Astronomical Center (DSAZ) on the Calar Alto Mountain near Almeria (Andalusia). This largest observatory on the European continent is now used by astronomers of both countries on equal terms.

Together with partners from Germany, Italy, and the United States, the MPIA is currently involved in the already much advanced construction of the Large Binocular Telescope
(LBT) and its instrumental equipment. The LBT is located on the 3190 m high Mount Graham near Tucson, Arizona; two primary mirrors of 8.4 meters diameter each are fixed on the telescope’s mount, making it the world’s largest single telescope. Moreover, MPIA is participating significantly in the instrumental equipment and use of the European Very Large Telescope (VLT) and the Very Large Telescope Interferometer (VLTI) on Cerro Paranal in Chile.

MPIA is also been active in the field of astronomical observations from space. MPIA scientists are involved in observations with the SPITZER- and HUBBLE Space Telescopes and in observations and the development of measuring instruments for the recently launched HERSCHEL Space Telescope. Furthermore, instrumentation for the future James Webb Space Telescope is under development.

Two fields of scientific research are given priority at MPIA. One is the formation and evolution of stars and planets in our cosmic neighborhood. This also concerns the question: Is the Sun with its life-harboring planet Earth unique or can conditions suitable for life also be found around other stars, at least around the numerous solar-like ones? The second research focus at MPIA, galaxies and cosmology, is on a better understanding of the evolution of the present-day highly structured universe with all its galaxies and stars and how it developed from a simple initial state shortly after the Big Bang.

Theory working groups complement the observing programs by model calculations, and at the University of Jena our team »Laboratory Astrophysics« investigates the optical properties of astronomically relevant materials.

MPIA is in close contact with the University of Heidelberg, a number of Institute members being professors there. Students in the Department of Physics and Astronomy can attend practical research courses and do their diploma or doctoral thesis at MPIA. Besides the permanent presentation of scientific results in international professional journals, MPIA is also very active in the field of public outreach.

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